Power outages can happen at any time. Aside from the discomfort of living without electricity, refrigerated or frozen food items may spoil if power is out for a number of days. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends taking the following precautions when an outage occurs.
- Use a refrigerator and freezer thermometer. Check before an outage to ensure that the refrigerator temperature is at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer is at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Know where you can get dry or block ice. Make ice cubes and freeze containers of water or gel packs to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator or coolers. Keep coolers on hand to store refrigerated food if the power will be out for more than 4 hours.
- Freeze refrigerated items that you may not need immediately and group food together in the freezer.
- Stock your pantry with a few days worth of ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking or refrigeration.
- When the power does go out, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours, and a full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if unopened.
- When power is restored, check the temperatures inside your refrigerator and freezer before consuming any food.
- If the power was out for no more than 4 hours, refrigerated food should be safe as long as the doors were kept closed. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, seafood, milk, eggs, or leftovers) that has been above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours or more.
- If the freezer thermometer reads 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, food is safe and may be refrozen. If you did not have a thermometer in the freezer, check each package to determine its safety; you can't rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals, it is safe to refreeze or cook. Be aware that perishable foods that are not kept adequately refrigerated or frozen may cause foodborne illness if consumed, even after they are thoroughly cooked.
Published with permission from RISMedia.