Food Safety During Power Outages
Unfortunately, we experience more than our share of power outages in Shelby County, mainly due to our frequent severe weather. When power is out for more than 4 hours, the threat of bacteria growth and subsequent illness becomes an issue. Because of this, we want you to have the information necessary to protect yourself, your family, and hopefully keep you from having to throw away food that has ruined.
When frozen foods thaw, and refrigerated food warms, bacteria and other pathogens grown that can cause serious illnesses. If the power is out for less than four hours, the food in the refrigerator and freezer will be safe to consume. While the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
- Keep an appliance thermometer in both the refrigerator and freezer. Make sure the refrigerator temperature is at 40 °F or below and the freezer is at 0 °F or below.
- Group foods together in both the refrigerator and freezer. This helps foods stay cold longer.
- Keep the freezer full. Fill empty spaces with frozen plastic jugs of water, bags of ice, or gel packs.
- Freeze refrigerated items that you may not need immediately, such as leftovers, milk, and fresh meat and poultry. This will keep them at a safe temperature longer.
- Have a large, insulated cooler and frozen gel packs available. Perishable foods will stay safe in a refrigerator only 4 hours.
- Find out where dry ice and block ice can be purchased.
DURING A POWER OUTAGE
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. The refrigerator will keep food safe for up to 4 hours. If the power is off longer, you can transfer food to a cooler and fill with ice or frozen gel packs.
- Make sure there is enough ice to keep food in the cooler at 40 °F or below. Add more ice to the cooler as it begins to melt.
- A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full).
- Obtain dry ice or block ice if your power is going to be out for a prolonged period. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic-foot freezer for 2 days. (Caution: do not touch dry ice with bare hands or place it in direct contact with food.)
- In freezers, food in the front, in the door, or in small, thin packages will defrost faster than large, thick items or food in the back or bottom of the unit.
AFTER A POWER OUTAGE
NEVER taste food to determine its safety - WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT!