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Keeping food safe when the power goes out

When people lost power during last winter's Snowmageddon (which, according to this, was forecast last JULY) they could salvage some of the food in their fridges and freezers by sticking it in a trash bag and burying it in a snowbank.

But that's not an option during this heat-wave-induced power outage. But there's plenty of online advice for keeping food safe -- and gauging its safety -- when the power's out.

Here's a summary:

- Keep the refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible. Opening the door lets cold air out and hot air in. (Try to coordinate trips to the fridge with other family members; getting everyone's food out at once is better than opening the door a bunch of times.)

- If the power's out for two hours or less (if only!), the food in both fridge and freezer should be safe to eat.

- If the power's out for more than two hours, try to move meat, fish, poultry, eggs and other perishable items to an insulated, ice-packed cooler.

- If your freezer is tightly packed, food should stay safe for 48 hours. If it's only half full, the food's safe for 24 hours.

- Check every item with a food thermometer just before eating or cooking with it. If it's over 40 degrees Fahrenheit, it's not safe. You can't rely on taste, smell or appearance when judging food safety.

- Once the power's back on (hallelujah!), freezer food can be refrozen if it still has ice crystals in it AND if its temperature is 40 degrees or less.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  July 26, 2010; 11:40 AM ET
Categories:  Family Health , Food Safety and Recalls  
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Comments

Where are you getting this ice? Oh of course we all have a few extra 20 lb bags in our freezer for just this occasion. Or we are taking our life in our hands to go to the other side of Montgomery county through the 270 traffic lights that are out because the grocery stores close to us are also out of power and are closed! Also not all of us live in houses where we can store a big cooler. Where do you put a cooler that can hold the contents of your freezer in your apartment? This advice is so useless for so many in an urban environment that live in small apartments or condos.

Posted by: ehardwick | July 26, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

The comment about food being safe if it's below 40 degrees before you eat or cook with it is only part of the story. This is only true before the power comes back on; after that, the fridge and freezer will cool the food back down...but it still may not be safe to eat.

Posted by: nashpaul | July 26, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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