A power outage is never convenient and even more when it takes several hours or even days for power to be restored. Don’t add food poisoning to your list of problems after a storm and power outage. Remember these key things:
When the Power Goes Out
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
- A refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if the door is kept closed.
- A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full). If your freezer is not full, group packages so they form an “igloo” to protect each other.
- Place meat and poultry to one side or on a tray so if they begin thawing their juices will not get on other foods.
- If the power is going to be out for a long time, buy dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully-stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.
When Power Comes Back
- Check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, or leftovers) that has been above 40°F for two hours or more.
- Check each item separately. Throw out any food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture, or feels warm to the touch.
- When in doubt, throw it out.
- With frozen food, check for ice crystals. The food in your freezer that partially or completely thawed may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is 40°F or below.
- Never taste a food to decide if it’s safe.
40 degrees is one magic number. If your refrigerated food is kept about 40 for more than two hours, this chart will tell you what to do. Note: DO NOT TASTE FOOD TO SEE IF IT’S OK TO COOK OR EAT!
Here’s another chart for food in your freezer. WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT!