Food safety during a power outage
Woman Checking Sell By Date On Salad Bag In Refrigerator
Refrigerator Food: When to Save and When to Throw it Out
Emergencies can happen, especially with extreme weather conditions. When they do, the best strategy is to already have a plan in place. This includes knowing the proper food safety precautions to take before, during, and after a power outage.
- Have a refrigerator thermometer and a stem thermometer
- Know where you can get dry ice.
- Keep on hand a few days worth of ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking or cooling, which depend on electricity.
When the Power Goes Out, Here are basic tips for keeping food safe:
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
- The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened.
- A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
- Group foods together in both the refrigerator and freezer. This helps foods stay cold longer.
- Refrigerators should be kept at 41°F or below for proper food storage.
- Obtain dry ice or block ice if your power is going to be out for a prolonged period.
- If you plan to eat refrigerated or frozen meat, poultry, fish, or eggs while they are still at safe temperatures, it is important that each item is thoroughly cooked to a safe minimum temperature to ensure that any foodborne bacteria that may be present are destroyed. However, if at any point these foods were above 41 °F for 4 hours or more – discard them.
Once the Power is Restored to determine the safety of your food:
- Check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer.
- If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, check the temperature when the power comes back on. If the thermometer reads 41° F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen.
- If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. You can’t rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 41° F or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook.
- Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than 4 hours. Keep the door closed as much as possible.
- Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, or leftovers) that has been above 41° F for 4 hours or more. These foods may cause illness if consumed, even though they are thoroughly cooked.
Remember, you can’t rely on appearance or odor. Never taste food to determine its safety! Some foods may look and smell fine, but if they’ve been at room temperature too long, bacteria that cause foodborne illness can begin to grow very rapidly. Remember, when in doubt, throw it out. If you have any further questions or concerns please contact us.