How to Deal With Food Safely After Hurricane Sandy’s Power Outages
Power outages are likely with the high winds hitting our area. Power outages put the safety of food in your refrigerator and freezer at risk. The Delaware General Health District urges everyone to take the steps necessary to stay safe from the risks of un-refrigerated food.
Many foods including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers must be kept refrigerated below 41 degrees fahrenheit to remain safe. Several kinds of germs that can make people sick can grow in these foods if the temperature rises above 41 degrees. Keep a thermometer in your refrigerator to ensure the temperature is below 41 degrees.
During a power outage, avoid opening your refrigerator. An unopened refrigerator which was at a safe temperature when the power failed will keep food below 41 degrees for about four hours, according to FDA.gov. If an outage persists longer than that, the food should be moved to a working refrigerator or cooled with dry ice or blocks of ice. If the food temperature rises above 41 degrees for two hours or longer, the food should be considered unsafe and thrown out.
Frozen food can be used or refrozen safely as long as its temperature remains at 41 degrees or colder. According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, a full freezer that is kept closed will remain below 41 degrees for about 48 hours after losing power. If the freezer is half full, the food will remain safe for about 24 hours after losing power. If you place the frozen foods together in the freezer, they will stay colder for a longer time.
The DGHD and food safety experts also recommend:
- Knowing ahead of time where ice can be obtained. You can use a waterproof container to prevent bagged ice from dripping inside your refrigerator or freezer as it melts.
- Keeping a supply of ready-to-eat foods which do not require refrigeration or cooking – enough to feed your family for a few days.
For additional information log on to foodsafety.gov or contact the Delaware General Health District Food Protection and Public Safety Unit at 740-368-1700 from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. throughout the week regardless of electrical status as the Health District does have emergency power operations.