With hurricane season in full swing, knowing what to do with the contents of the fridge and freezer during a power outage could save time and prevent the consumption of unsafe food.
Matt Taylor, Ph.D., associate professor for the Department of Animal Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University explains how to best assess food safety during power outages.
Keeping the fridge or freezer closed as much as possible will help retain the cold air, and as always, if in doubt, throw it out!
Keeping it cool
One should not repeatedly open the door to a fridge or freezer once power is lost, as that will allow cold air to escape quickly and negate any insulation of the food that might have otherwise been in place.
Having a refrigerator with a display that indicates internal temperature once power is restored will help. One can judge whether food has been at or above 40°F for two hours or more based on when power was lost and how much time has elapsed before electricity was restored.
What should be thrown out immediately?
Anything fresh or perishable like meat, poultry, eggs, fish, fluid milk and even juice that has or is suspected to have been sitting above 40°F for more than two hours should be thrown out immediately, he said.
When the power returns
“After power comes back, this is the best time to check the status of your fridge and freezer foods. The FDA has a good rule of thumb, when in doubt, throw it out. Apply the 40°F for two hours or more rule,” said Taylor. “Make sure to confirm municipal water is safe to drink/cook/bathe with during/after the event.”
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