Keeping Food Safe When The Power Goes Out
Here in Minnesota, we’ve had a bit of a stormy spring followed by some extremely hot weather this week. Folks out East have been hit even harder, recent storms have left thousands of households without power over this holiday week.
No power for your computer, TV or other things can be an inconvenience – but no power for the fridge and freezer can be cause for major concern. Not just in the expense of replacing food that might be lost, but in your health from trying to use up some of that food before it goes bad, or maybe worse – using some of it that maybe has gone bad and not knowing until it’s too late.
Perishable foods that have not been kept properly chilled can cause harmful bacterias and more to grow that can make you and your family sick if you eat them, so keep a few things in mind if you happen to lose power and help make sure the food you’re eating is safe!
First off, if the power goes out, avoid opening your fridge or freezer unless absolutely necessary. A closed fridge will maintain a safe temperature for about 4 hours. A full freezer will be ok for up to 48 hours, if it’s half-full, it will be ok for about 24 hours. Opening them allows the warmer air in, drastically reducing how long they will maintain their temperature. If you know the power is going to be out for a while, try to get some block ice or even better – dry ice.
Cooking meats and such that are at risk of thawing out is not always the best idea. Once it’s cooked, if it’s not eaten right away it needs to then be stored at a proper temperature to keep from going bad, so you may just be delaying the inevitable.
Odds are, if you lose power for a day, anything the fridge likely will have to be replaced. When it comes to frozen foods, if they’re still some parts that are frozen and/or they feel at least as cold as if they were in a fridge, you may be able to refreeze them. However, many foods do lose some texture and flavor quality when refrozen.
Overall, the best way to avoid getting sick when checking out the contents of the fridge or freezer is – “when in doubt, throw it out”.
If you end up throwing away all your food because of a power outage, make a list of everything. Depending on your policy, you may be able to recover some of the costs from your home-owners or renters insurance.
If you want some more information on what to look for when dealing with a power outage, check out the links below from foodsafety.gov: