Ask the expert: Storing food and medications in the same fridge

By: August 31st, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: Is it OK to store food and medications, such as vaccines, in the same fridge?

A: It is not acceptable to store medications, including vaccines, in the same refrigerator. In fact, there should be a separate refrigerator for meds and for food, and each should be clearly labeled on the door as to the contents.

Also, as a reminder, eating, drinking, smoking, and the application of cosmetics should not be allowed in a laboratory or an area where medications are prepared, mixed,  etc.

–Kenneth S. Weinberg, BA, MSc, PhD, consultant in environmental health, safety, and toxicology; Safdoc Systems.

See also:
Ask the expert: Food, specimens, and refrigerators


I would imagine that even worse than storing food and vaccines in the same refrigerator would be to store biohazardous blood samples in the same fridge as vaccines. Comments?

Can you site a regulation or even a standard on this? OSHA clearly does not allow food in areas where there is blood or body fluids, but medications are not included in this.

The reason for separating medications and food obviously is to eliminate the potential for contamination of the food or the medication.

Back in the days when you poured medications out of a bottle or had to mix a medication and store it in the refrigerator, this may have been an issue, but in today’s healthcare system. The issues are not the same.

Would I keep chemo meds in a food refrigerator – No. Would I allow a few vials of vaccine to be stored in a sealed plastic container in a med refrigerator? Yes.

Then there are the fuzzies. What about oral contrast media? Fizzy laxitives? Orange juice in cans for areas that administer insulin?

Having a separate medication refrigerator for a single vial of vaccine would appear to be excessive.

That should be would I allow a few vials of vaccine in a food refrigerator.

I have fridge, which was used for keeping medicine. But now medicines have been cleared from that fridge. Can I keep food on that fridge?? There is a medicine smell inside the fridge. Is it safe to keep food inside?? Pls suggest.

By Jean Klemme on May 23rd, 2019 at 3:23 pm

Can a medication refrigerator be near a coffee machine or near where food is stored?

In my medical fridge on the shelved theres vaccines, etc. However on the very bottom in drawers can I put closed cans in there? We have a very small staff fridge.

By Helen Pedersen on October 8th, 2019 at 9:07 am

Would it be acceptable to have two refrigerators in the medication room to separate medications and juice/nutritional supplements?

By Lisa Gerlach on November 11th, 2019 at 9:37 am

We have a small refrigerator for vaccines. Does this need to be locked?

By Jesse Ford on March 13th, 2020 at 3:13 pm

I like how you mentioned that it’s not acceptable to place vaccines and food in the same refrigeration space. The lab I work for is considering getting a 24-inch refrigerator for vaccines because our we noticed last week that our fridge wasn’t staying at the proper temperature to keep medication cool. I think it’s a good idea to consider shopping from a reputable company that has high-quality equipment in order to keep the vaccination we have at a reasonable temperature.

We have a small medicine room and 1 fridge. We occasionally have a injectable med that needs refrigerated and we have kids that require juice with meds. Is it exceptable to have the meds in a plastic container in the fridge while keeping the juice and water pitchers in there


Leave a Comment


« | Home | »

Subscribe - Get blog updates via e-mail

  • test
  • HCPro Broadcast Events Calendar