Just because you religiously transfer vaccines from your refrigerator into a cooler, and keep those products in the shade, don’t think everything is just fine. That’s the bottom line of an innovative study concluded recently by Tom Troxel and Brett Barham at the University of Arkansas (UA).

Of 191 refrigerators tested, only 26.7% of them recorded temperatures of 35°-45° F. more than 95% of the time during a 48-hour period. That temperature range is the recommendation for storing animal-health products that require refrigeration.

Though 76% of the refrigerators tested were unacceptable for storing animal-health products, the problem runs deeper. Of refrigerators tested, only 23.6% of them achieved the acceptable temperature range less than 5% of the time during the 48-hour period.

Troxel notes, “Storing animal-health products at temperatures colder than 35° can be more damaging than storing them at temperatures higher than 45° because the antigen can separate from the adjuvant.”

For perspective, researchers tested all types of refrigerators in production operations, at vet clinics and at retail stores.

“The data established that no refrigerator type or age is critical for storing animal-health products,” Troxel says. “Any refrigerator can be set too cold or too warm.”

And, any refrigerator can fail fully or partially if standard maintenance is neglected. UA researchers explain standard refrigerator maintenance should include keeping the coils clean, as well as the drip pan and the drain tube connected to it. Likewise, door gaskets should pass the paper test. “A piece of paper between the rubber seal and the wall of the refrigerator should not slide,” say the researchers. If the piece of paper slips between the seal and the wall, the seal is not tight enough and the gasket requires replacement.

“This demonstration illustrates the importance of monitoring the temperature of refrigerators where animal-health products are stored,” Troxel says. “It’s very important for livestock producers to store all animal-health products according to labeled instructions. When animal-health products are stored incorrectly, their effectiveness may become compromised.”

Look for more detail in the March issue of BEEF.