Your Place: How low should a refrigerator go?

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Q: I have a problem with refrigerators. This is the second refrigerator in a month that the store has delivered. Now I am waiting for a new control, and I guess they will install it next Wednesday.

Problem: It wonít cool below 38 degrees, and the freezer doesnít get down to 0. Is this now the standard? If so, a lot of people are going to be eating a lot of spoiled food.

I expect a refrigerator to get down below 33 degrees if so desired and the freezer to get to negative-5 degrees, if desired. Not that it would always be set for that, but the range should be there.

A: Standards are typically set by the government, hence the Department of Energy and the dishwasher rules I wrote about a few weeks back.

The Food and Drug Administrationís website, however, has this about temperature:

"Keep your appliances at the proper temperatures. Keep the refrigerator temperature at or below 40 degrees F (4 degrees C). The freezer temperature should be 0 degree F (minus 18 degrees C). Check temperatures periodically. Appliance thermometers are the best way of knowing these temperatures and are generally inexpensive."

If the standard had been changed, the FDAís caveats would be pointless.

I looked at the Sub-Zero/Wolf website, because I consider that brand to be the gold standard of refrigeration ó which means I canít afford one. It says the temperature range in a Sub-Zero with an electronic control panel is 34 degrees to 45 degrees Fahrenheit (1 to 7 degrees Celsius) in the refrigerator and minus-5 to 5 degrees F (minus-20 to minus-15 Celcius) in the freezer.

It also suggests that anything below 0 degrees in a freezer would be overkill, but if you prefer lower ó well, thatís your call.

Lemons do exist outside the produce section of the supermarket. Anything that is produced by human beings is subject to error, and that goes especially for major appliances.

Perhaps you should look for something other than the brand you seem to be struggling with.

Name no longer means quality, and price doesnít guarantee that you will get the best, even if you are spending top dollar.