Loss of electricity can jeopardize the safety of food stored in your refrigerator or freezer. In the event of a blackout, do you know how to determine if your food is safe to eat? Here are some tips to minimize the potential loss of food, and lower the risk of getting sick.
Before a blackout…
- Gather an emergency supply of dry food, packaged foods, boxed or canned milk, bottled water, and canned food.
- Have coolers on hand and frozen gel packs in the freezer, in case the power goes out longer than four hours.
- Keep freezer items close together—this helps the food stay cold longer.
Bacteria in food grows rapidly at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees. The USDA recommends setting your refrigerator at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If the power is out for less than four hours, and the refrigerator door is kept closed, your food should stay safe.
Following a long blackout…
- Discard any perishable food items such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers that have been exposed to temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours or more.
- Use a food thermometer to test the temperature of the food—NEVER TASTE IT! You can’t rely on appearance and odor to determine whether food is safe.
- Discard any refrigerated items that have come in contact with raw meat, seafood, or poultry juices.
Power outages can occur anywhere at any time of the year. Make sure you and your family are prepared and know what to do to avoid getting sick.