Heinz Talks Refrigerating Ketchup, and a Red Storm Rises

Despite legions who say otherwise, the company wants you to refrigerate after opening
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2023 4:00 PM CDT
Updated Jul 2, 2023 9:03 PM CDT
Heinz Talks Refrigerating Ketchup, and a Red Storm Rises
   (Getty Images / Sergey Ryzhov)

For decades, Americans have been plagued by this burning question: Do you need to refrigerate ketchup or not? In a Newsday food column published in May 1977, columnist Marie Bianco cited Heinz in her answer, writing that the longtime ketchup maker said "you must refrigerate the ketchup unless you plan to use it in a few weeks." Iconic lifestyle columnist Heloise has also been answering the question in the affirmative for years. Yet CBS News reports the question of whether the red stuff needs to cool down after opening is again the topic of what it calls a "food fight" after Heinz itself weighed in. "FYI: Ketchup. goes. in. the. fridge!!!" the company tweeted this week.

But even after Heinz posted a Twitter poll that had the majority of voters also coming down on the side of "yes," CBS notes people were still tweeting replies like, "Heinz don't even know where their product should be stored." (To which Heinz replied, "The fridge.") While Heinz has in the past indicated the acidity in ketchup—one of the main ingredients is "distilled vinegar"—makes it relatively shelf stable, CBS pointed out the label does say to refrigerate after opening. Some may argue against refrigeration by noting restaurant ketchup isn't served cold, but Eat This, Not That torpedoed that defense in 2019 by pointing out the simple fact that restaurants go through ketchup so quickly, they don't need to bother with refrigeration. The ketchup is usually gone long before it has a chance to get stale.

In 2022, the venerable Reader's Digest also came down decisively in the refrigerator camp, citing Heinz and stating, "You need to store open ketchup containers in the fridge, no ifs, ands, or burgers about it." So, it would seem the case is closed. But given that people have been raising the same question for at least 45 years or more, chances are it will come up again. (More Heinz ketchup stories.)

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