According to a new study by the Spanish Consumers' Association (OCU), 35% of commercial establishments do not guarantee a proper conservation of chilled and frozen food.
The organisation analysed the temperature of 716 refrigerated and frozen products in 179 stores in order to check if the temperature at which food was being stored was correct.
OCU staff chose a variety of widely consumed refrigerated foods, such as lasagna, sausages, spanish omelette, ham and other cured meat cuts. Frozen fish and vegetables were also tested to establish the freezer storage temperature.
According to the OCU study, thermometers in the fridges themselves indicated in some cases that the temperature was not in line with legislation.
But the situation was compounded when OCU analysts took readings with their own thermometers: 20% of the fridges were in breach of the law and showed temperatures above eight degrees.
68% of ready-made meals and 55% of the sausages and cured meats studied were found to be at temperatures above those recommended.
The results for frozen products, although a little better, were not good either, with 16% of the vegetables and 13% of the fish at non-regulation food temperatures, the study said.
The OCU study found no significant differences between the various supermarket chains, but there were regional variations in quality of storage: Toledo, Barcelona and Badajoz stand out with good results in frozen storage and acceptable results in refrigeration. Palma de Mallorca and Pamplona showed the poorest results.
Consumers are reminded that the cold chain must not be broken and recommends that, even whilst shopping, refrigerated or frozen products should always be selected at the end to minimise the amount of time outside of the fridge or freezer. They should also be transported in insulated bags and then stored as quickly as possible back in the fridge or freezer at home.