Food Safety

Be Prepared for a Power Outage

Although the calendar says spring is just around the corner, weather forecasters say our region is in for yet another major winter storm!

In severe conditions such as these, power outages are possible due to downed wires and other complications. Should you or someone you know lose power, it is important to know what steps you can take to keep the food in your refrigerator and freezer safe.

If you lose power, the United States Food and Drug Association (FDA) recommends keeping refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. An unopened refrigerator should keep food cold for about four hours. A full freezer will hold temperatures for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if half full) if the door is kept closed.

If possible, rely on non-perishable, ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking or cooling that depends on electricity.

Should you decide to prepare any refrigerated or frozen food you have on hand during a power outage, be sure to thoroughly cook each item to the proper temperature to assure that any foodborne bacteria that may be present will be destroyed. Likewise, the FDA advises to wash fruits and vegetables with water from a safe source before eating.

Once power is restored, check the temperature inside your freezer. If it is below 40 degrees, the food inside is safe to retain and consume. If you do not have a thermometer, you will need to check each package to determine if it is safe. Do not rely on color or odor; instead look for ice crystals and determine if the food is solid. If there has been any thawing, err on the side of caution and discard the item.

If power has been off for more than four hours or your refrigerator has been opened frequently during the outage, the FDA recommends discarding perishable foods, such as milk, eggs, poultry, seafood and meat, as foodborne bacteria may still cause illness even if thoroughly cooked.

No matter the season, it’s a good idea to have a basic emergency supply kit on hand with enough non-perishable food, water and other supplies to last for at least three days for each member of your family. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also recommends having flashlights and batteries, a first aid kit, personal hygiene items and sanitation supplies on hand, as well as prescription medications, disinfectants, pet supplies and other essentials. For more information on creating an emergency supply kit, visit FEMA’s ready.gov website (http://www.ready.gov).


The Food Keeper contains valuable storage advice to help you maintain

the freshness and quality of foods. Some foods deteriorate quickly, while
the quality of other items may last longer than expected. This is why the storage times listed in the accompanying charts are intended as useful guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Remember to buy foods in reasonable quantities and rotate them in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer.

Click here to download the Food Keeper PDF

be food safe

For more information, visit www.befoodsafe.org