The Truth About 'Refrigerator Flavor'

Have you ever taken a piece of food out of the fridge that tastes a bit off? It hasn't quite gone bad, but it definitely isn't right. Well, you could be dealing with a case of "refrigerator flavor," a phenomena that seems to happen to food when it sits too long in the refrigerator or freezer. 

On a recent Reddit thread, one user explains that they can smell and taste it coming off of food both in his house as well as in the homes of other people. And, while it may not often appear as many times as it does for this person, refrigerator flavor is definitely a thing. According to CNET, it isn't actually other food in your refrigerator that is making your food smell, it's the appliance itself. One reason, says CNET, is that plastic storage containers have absorbed foul smells from the appliance. Another is that the drip tray (something that some, but not all, refrigerators have) has not been cleaned and is moldy, causing terrible smells that permeate your food and lead to it to tasting off in flavor. 

How can I fix refrigerator flavor?

So now that you've pinpointed some of the reasons for this stench and subsequent taste, there are lots of simple ways to help improve this issue. Consumer Reports notes that these methods may take a bit of work on your part, but they are sure to fix the problem. Besides taking out food that has obviously spoiled and gone bad, you really should actually take everything out and inspect it. You never know what you may find lurking in a container or what may have fallen behind something else. Washing shelves and bins by hand and then using an odor remover like baking soda are also must-dos to help get rid of scents.  

Like the drip tray, Consumer Reports notes that cleaning the evaporator is also crucial in stopping terrible fridge smells from finding their way into your food and ruining that meal you were so looking forward to. That coil is what actually makes the cool air for the fridge, so if it is creating smelly air, everything else will absorb it, too.