The Uses for Refrigerator Racks
Refrigerators keep foods fresh and prevent them from spoiling and growing bacteria. Opening and closing the refrigerator causes the temperature to vary, and the temperature is often cooler on top and warmer down below. Different refrigerator models have different configurations of racks, but most fridges have a top rack, a middle rack and a bottom rack in some variation. There also are racks inside the door.
Store dairy products on the top rack, where the refrigerator is coolest. The cooler temperature keeps the milk from spoiling for longer. Put milk toward the back of a refrigerator, and then put butter, cheese, eggs and other dairy products at the front. According to the Dairy Council of California, storing milk in the back of the refrigerator and away from the door keeps the milk at a lower temperature and prevents bacteria growth.
Fruits and Vegetables
Store fruits and vegetables on separate racks in the warmest part of the refrigerator. When you store fruits and vegetables together, ethylene can develop and cause them to spoil. Often refrigerators have specialized drawers designed to store these items at the bottom of the fridge, which can reach temperatures of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Storing fruits and vegetables in plastic bags with holes poked in them also helps keep the food fresh.
Put meats on the second rack, just above the fruits and vegetables. Keep freshly purchased meats in the original packaging to prevent them from leaking and contaminating other foods in the refrigerator. Store leftover meat properly in sealed containers or aluminum foil, and store them on the middle rack as well.
Drinks and Condiments
Products that have extended shelf lives can handle the changing temperatures and are not affected by the constant opening and closing of the refrigerator door. Place soft drinks, juices, peanut butter, jelly and condiments on the inside racks of the refrigerator. However, keep these products tightly sealed so they don't spill or drip onto the kitchen floor.