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How can I keep food safe in a power outage?

During a power outage, consider the advice by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and ConAgra Foods, Inc., which can be found at HomeFoodSafety.org:

Before the Power Goes Out:
  • Make sure that your refrigerator is set at 40 degrees F or below. Above this temperature, pathogens, which cause foodborne illness, grow more rapidly.
  • Make sure that your milk and eggs are stored in the back of your refrigerator, rather than on the door, to keep them colder longer. The temperature of the refrigerator door is typically higher due to its constant opening and closing.
Should the Power Goes Out:
  • Avoiding opening the refrigerator and freezer unnecessarily. The longer the doors are closed, the longer the food will remain at a cold temperature.
  • If your power is restored within four hours, the items in the refrigerator should be safe to eat.
  • A freezer that is stuffed full will stay at freezing temperatures for two days if the door remains closed. A half-full freezer will stay at freezing temperatures for one day if the door remains closed.
Once the Power is Restored:
  • When your power is restored, check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer. If it has risen to 45 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, the folks at HomeFoodSafety recommend that you discard any perishables such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy, egg products, soft cheese, cooked beans, cooked grains, cooked potatoes, potato salad, custard, and pudding that could potentially be spoiled.
  • Wait until the temperature of the refrigerator drops to 40 degrees F or below before you restock it.
Lastly, when in doubt, throw it out.

HomeFoodSafety.org is a public awareness campaign by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Congra Foods, Inc., dedicated to providing home food safety statistics, information about foodborne illness (also known as food poisoning), and safe food handling information and tips.

For more home safety tips, visit www.homefoodsafety.org.
During a power outage, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. A refrigerator can stay chilled for about four hours if unopened. Additionally, in a half-full to full freestanding freezer, foods can keep for about one to two days, respectively.

Once the power is restored, follow these guidelines:
  • Never taste a food to determine its safety.
  • If foods have ice crystals on them or have remained at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder, refreeze them and use them as soon as possible.
  • Discard perishable foods if they have been kept at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Less perishable foods may be kept if the power outage lasted for only a few hours.
  • When in doubt, throw it out.
Keep shelf-stable foods like cereals, canned vegetables or bottled water in the pantry for emergencies.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.