What happens to food when the power goes out
The Health Department urges residents to be aware of food safety in the event of power outages.
If the power goes out: Try to keep the doors closed on refrigerators and freezers as much as possible. This keeps the cold air inside.
A full freezer can stay at freezing temperatures about two days; a half-full freezer about one day. If you think the power will be out for several days, try to find some ice to pack inside your refrigerator. Keep your raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods.
Foods to be concerned about: All potentially hazardous foods are the most important: All meats, fish, poultry, all dairy products, all eggs and egg products, soft cheeses, cooked beans, cooked rice, cooked potatoes, cooked pasta, potato/pasta/macaroni salads, custards, puddings.
Some foods may not be hazardous but the quality may be affected: salad dressings, mayonnaise, butter and margarine, produce, hard cheeses.
Some foods are safe. These include carbonated beverages, unopened bottled juices, ketchup, mustard, relishes, jams, peanut butter, barbecue sauce.
What to save, what to throw out: Refrigerated foods should be safe as long as the power is out no more than a few hours and the doors have been kept closed.
Potentially hazardous foods should be discarded if they warm up above 45 degrees F. Frozen foods which are still frozen are no problem.
If potentially hazardous foods are thawed but are still cold or have ice crystals on them, use them as soon as possible. Do not refreeze.
If potentially hazardous foods are thawed and warmer than 45 degrees F., discard them. "When in doubt, throw it out."
Recognizing unsafe foods: You can't rely on appearance or odor. Never taste the food to determine its safety.
Some foods may look and smell fine, but if they've been warm too long the food poisoning bacteria may have grown enough to make you sick.
If possible, use a thermometer to check the temperature of the foods. If potentially hazardous foods are less than 45 degrees F., they are safe.
When the power goes back on: Allow time for refrigerators to reach the proper temperature of less than 45 degrees F. before restocking. Start with all fresh foods.
For more information, contact the Health Department information line at 296-4600.