Food Safety in Power Outages
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Food Safety in Power Outages
A power outage may occur during a seasonal storm and keeping food safe can be challenging. The following recommendations apply to food safety in power outages.
Use a Thermometer: Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer at all times to help you know if the food is at a safe temperature. The refrigerator temperature should be 40°F or below; the freezer 0°F or below. If you’re not sure a particular food is cold enough, take its temperature with a food thermometer. The key to determining the safety of foods in the refrigerator and freezer is how cold they are. Most foodborne illness are caused by bacteria that multiply rapidly at temperatures about 40°F.
Leave the Freezer/Refrigerator Door Closed: Keep freezer and refrigerator doors closed as much as possible. Every time you open, cold air escapes, causing the foods inside to reach unsafe temperatures. A full freezer should keep food safe about two days; a half-full freezer, about a day. Group packages together quickly, if the freezer is not full. Group meat and poultry to one side or on separate trays so their juices will not contaminate each other or other foods if they thaw. Then avoid opening the freezer door to prevent cold air from escaping. The refrigerator will keep food safe for about 4 hours if unopened. Discard any perishable food that has been above 40°F for 2 hours or more.
Discard or Save: When the power is restored, what foods are safe to eat?
Discard: The following foods should be discarded if kept above 40°F for 2 hours or more.
• Meat, poultry, fish, eggs and egg substitutes-raw or cooked
• Milk, cream, yogurt, and soft cheese
• Casseroles, stews or soups
• Lunch meats and hot dogs
• Creamy-based salad dressings
• Cream-filled pastries
• Cookie dough
• Discard open mayonnaise, tarter sauce and horseradish if above 50°F for over 8 hours.
Save: The following foods should keep at room temperature a few days. Discard anything that turns moldy or has an unusual odor.
• Butter or margarine
• Hard and processed cheeses
• Fresh fruits and vegetables
• Dried fruits and coconut
• Opened jars of vinegar-based salad dressings, jelly, relish, bbq sauce, mustard, ketchup, olives and peanut butter
• Fruit juices
• Fresh herbs and spices
• Fruit pies, breads, rolls and muffins
• Cakes, except cream cheese-frosted or cream filled
• Flour and nuts.
Refreeze: Thawed and partially thawed food in the freezer may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40°F or below. Partial thawing and refreezing may affect the quality of some food, but the food will be safe to eat.