From ketchup to honey: these are the foods you should not store in the refrigerator

Refrigerating food usually helps it last longer - but food experts claim that there are some products that we should not store in the refrigerator

Bottles of Heinz tomato ketchup of U.S. food company Kraft Heinz are offered at a supermarket of Swiss retail group Coop in Zumikon, Switzerland (photo credit: REUTERS/ARND WIEGMANN)
Bottles of Heinz tomato ketchup of U.S. food company Kraft Heinz are offered at a supermarket of Swiss retail group Coop in Zumikon, Switzerland
(photo credit: REUTERS/ARND WIEGMANN)

While it's true that almost every food item can be stored in the refrigerator, there is a big difference between "can" and "need." Food experts claim that in many cases we store in the refrigerator food products that do not need to be refrigerated at all - even after they have been opened. This is their advice on how to make room in the fridge for things that are really important to be there: 

A recent survey found that only one in five people check the product label to see where it should be stored before and after initial use. The Love Food Hate Waste campaign has on its website a list from A to Z of food products and their intended storage location.

According to the website, eggs are definitely better kept in the refrigerator.

Uncooked bananas and pineapples should remain in the fruit bowl, but most other fresh fruits and vegetables are highly recommended to be refrigerated to extend their shelf life. Just make sure - the experts suggest - to return them to room temperature before cooking or eating to increase the taste.

"Storing in the right place keeps food fresh for longer - and it will save you money."

Helen White

Potatoes and onions should be kept in a dark place like a vegetable drawer in the closet, ideally in a cloth bag (except green onions, which should be stored in the refrigerator). You can also store soy sauce, ketchup, mustard, olive oil and pickles in the cupboard away from sunlight, even if the label recommends refrigeration after opening.

 Fried egg (illustrative) (credit: PEXELS) Fried egg (illustrative) (credit: PEXELS)

"Storing in the right place keeps food fresh for longer - and it will save you money," says Helen White, consultant at Love Food Hate Waste. "If you keep bread in the fridge, it will go stale faster. It should be in a cupboard or a bread box. If you keep your apples in the fruit bowl, they will turn mealy faster. Store apples in the refrigerator - you'll be surprised how long they last there."

Refrigerator storage results in less food waste 

The broad message seems to be that storing food items in the refrigerator can preserve them better over time and thus result in less food waste. Pesto, mayonnaise, avocado, butter and dips will last longer in the fridge than in the cupboard, but when it comes to honey, bread, pastries, cereals, nuts, cakes and bagels - a cool, dark cupboard with tightly sealed containers will be a more efficient solution.

Ketchup controversy 

Of all the products, the subject of ketchup is the most controversial - after all, on the label itself it is written that it should be kept refrigerated and it turns out that opinions regarding the correct location where it should be stored are divided.

While the experts mentioned here are convinced that it is desirable to keep it outside the refrigerator and although in many restaurants you can see bottles of ketchup that sit outside for a whole day without refrigeration - you should know that Nicole Kulwicki, the brand manager of Heinz ketchup, says that the product does not need refrigeration - until after it is opened.

"Due to its natural acidity, Heinz ketchup is shelf-stable," she said. "However, its stability after opening can be affected by storage conditions. We recommend keeping it refrigerated after opening to maintain the best product quality."

If you're wondering why restaurants seem to keep open bottles of ketchup on their tables all day and night, Reader's Digest magazine claims that it's actually a scam - the restaurateurs throw the contents of the bottle, whether it's homemade ketchup or popular brands, into the trash every night.

"We measure how many orders of ketchup will be served that day," explains chef Luke Wenner of Elm Restaurant in New Canaan, Connecticut. "We always put the big container right back in the fridge. All unused portions are thrown away at the end of the shift."

Their verdict: Yes, open containers of ketchup should be stored in the refrigerator.