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Food Safety Issues/Storing 1/2 Gallon Half n Half


At work we buy 1/2 gal of Half n Half...........Our refrigerator is on a goes off in the evening and turns back on in the morning.   Can this cause bacteria in the milk?


Hi Sandi,

Let me understand turn off your refrigerator every night?  I've never heard of a refrigerator cycled on and off every day as this would be hard on the compressor and is not really a cost savings in the long run.  

All foods that are considered potentially hazardous (dairy, meat, poultry, cooked carbohydrates, etc) should be kept either cold -- below 41 degrees F -- or hot -- above 135 degrees F.  Being between these 2 temperatures is considered the "Danger Zone" since this is the temperature harmful bacteria can rapidly multiply.  When a product is allowed to be between 41 and 135 for more than 4 hours, the recommendation is to throw it out.  

Let's say your refrigerator is turned off at 8pm and is turned back on at 6 am.  That's 10 hours off and chances are the internal temperature of the refrigerator has gone above 41 degrees F.  If it was above 41 for more than 4 hours, the recommendation would be to not consume the half n half but pitch it. An open container of half n half could have had bacteria introduced that given the right conditions could grow.  Refrigerator temperatures slow down the growth of bacteria but as the temperatures go above 41 degrees, the rate of growth increases.

I would encourage your work to maintain the refrigerator at 41 degrees F or below all the time to ensure the safety of the stored products.


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Carol Schlitt


I can answer questions on home food safety, sanitation and home food preservation.


I am a former Extension educator, nutrition, wellness and food safety, having retired August 1, 2010. I am a food safety instructor for the Illinois Department of Public Health, a ServSafe Instructor/Proctor and have my own company, Safe & Savory Solutions, Inc -

National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (Past President and current Historian), St. Louis Culinary Society.

BS - University of Illinois MS - Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

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