Top 5 Food Safety Tips When the Power Goes Out

We’ve had a LOT of storms around here lately. On one of our many trips to the basement, the Hubs mentioned he thought I should write a post on food safety and power outages. It’s not always easy to know what food to keep and what to throw out when your fridge loses power. So, at the prompting of my wise hubster, here are my top 5 tips to consider next time you lose your lights:

  1. The general rule: food should be safe as long as the power has been out for less than 4 hours.
  2. Perishable food (like meat, dairy products, eggs, leftovers, etc) should not be consumed if their temperature has reached 40 degrees F (or above) for more than two hours. Un-cut fruits and raw vegetables can be an exception.
  3. Keep the refrigerator closed as much as possible. Opening and closing the fridge lets the cool air out and warm air in, increasing the internal temperature.
  4. Never, never, never taste food to evaluate food safety. Unsafe food may look and smell normal, but can potentially cause severe illness.
  5. “When in doubt, throw it out.” It may be hard to stomach the loss of a refrigerator full of food – perishable items are expensive. However, always try to remember that your health is more valuable.

For more information, or more direction about particular food items, visit the USDA FSIS:  Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency 

Source: USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/keeping_food_Safe_during_an_emergency/index.asp

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