Refrigerator Performance Critical to Drug Storage

Properly storing vaccines is critical to their effectiveness. ( Farm Journal, Inc. )

If your old kitchen refrigerator had trouble keeping your beer cold, it’s certainly not adequate to store thousands of dollars of cattle vaccines and pharmaceuticals.

“The monetary investment that is stored in the farm refrigerator often far outweighs the quality and reliability of that refrigerator,” says Emmanuel Rollin, a veterinary and clinical assistant professor in Dairy Production Medicine at the University of Georgia.

“The risk of having a refrigerator failure is not just the cost to replace the products inside, but also in the increase in disease cost if there are unidentified issues associated with storage,” he says.

Hand-me-down refrigerators, especially if doors do not seal well or if they have old or dirty cooling systems, often cannot maintain proper temperatures or recover quickly once the door is opened, he says.

Rollin recommends using wireless recording high-low thermometers to monitor the refrigerator and its contents. Maintaining a log of temperatures will show cooling performance.

“Once you know the current temperature of the refrigerator, you can then dial in the settings to match the recommendations on the product label,” Rollin says. Most vaccines have a recommended storage temperature range of 35° to 45°F.

“Freezing these products or storing them at higher temperatures may render them completely ineffective, or may actually increase the risk of adverse reactions,” he says. Freezing or overheating Gram-negative bacterial vaccines can result in the release of endotoxins, which can have serious side effects in cattle.

Finally, Rollin warns that storing products on the top shelf of refrigerators subjects them to very cold air outflows. Storing products in the door often results in significant temperature fluctuations.