As the power returns it’s important to consider the safety of the food in your refrigerator and freezer.
According to the Centers for Disease Control –
If the power is out for less than 2 hours, then the food in your refrigerator and freezer will be safe to consume. While the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep food cold for longer.
If the power is out for longer than 2 hours, follow the guidelines below:
- For the Freezer section: A freezer that is half full will hold food safely for up to 24 hours. A full freezer will hold food safely for 48 hours. Do not open the freezer door if you can avoid it.
- For the Refrigerated section: Pack milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy, and spoilable leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice. Inexpensive Styrofoam coolers are fine for this purpose.
- Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of your food right before you cook or eat it. Throw away any food that has a temperature of more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Visit the USDA’s fact sheet Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency. The USDA has prepared a chart “When to Save and When to Throw Out.” The chart clearly indicates what you should do with your refrigerated foods once they reach 40 degrees for over 2 hours.
A stern warning from the American Red Cross
Throw Out Unsafe Food: Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40° F (4° C) for 2 hours or more or that has an unusual odor, color or texture. When in doubt, throw it out! Never taste food or rely on appearance or odor to determine its safety. If food in the freezer is colder than 40° F and has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it. Use a thermometer to check the food’s temperature.
Remember – When in doubt throw it out!
posted by – Susan, Health Reference Services