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Food Preservation During Outages

Sudden power outages can be frustrating and troublesome, especially when they are prolonged. Perishable foods should not be held above 40 degrees for more than 2 hours. If a power outage is 2 hours or less, you need not be concerned, but how do you save your food when the refrigerator is out for longer than that? Being prepared can help. By planning ahead, you can save your perishables.

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What do I do after an outage?

Do not open the refrigerator or freezer. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold enough for a couple of hours at least. A freezer that is half full will hold for up to 24 hours and a full freezer for 48 hours. If it looks like the power outage will be for more than 2-4 hours, pack refrigerated milk, dairy products, meats, fish, poultry, eggs, gravy, stuffing and left-overs into a cooler surrounded by ice. If it looks like the power outage will be prolonged, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items.

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What do I need?
One or more coolers. Inexpensive Styrofoam coolers can do an excellent job as well. Shelf-stable foods, such as canned goods and powdered or boxed milk. A digital quick-response thermometer. With these thermometers you can quickly check the internal temperatures of food for doneness and safety.

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What should be discarded after a power outage?
As soon as the power returns, check temperatures. If the food in the freezer has ice crystals and is not above 40 degrees you can refreeze. Perishable foods in the refrigerator should not be above 40 degrees F. for more than two hours.

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What if I go to bed and the power is still off?
Before you go to bed, pack your perishables into your coolers if you haven't already done so and put in as much ice as you can. Also, when you go to bed, leave a bedroom light switched on. When the power goes back on, it will wake you, so you can check the condition of your foods in the freezer.

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What if the power goes out and comes back on while I am out?
If your freezer is fairly full and you know it was not longer than 24 hours, the food should be OK. There will be loss of quality with refreezing, but the food will be safe. If the refrigerator was out for more than 2-4 hours, you are best to discard the perishables.

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Will we reimburse you for spoiled food?
We are not liable for food spoilage or damage to customer property resulting from an act of nature, such as a major storm, which is beyond out immediate control.

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What if the power goes out while I’m at work or out of the house and it has been more than a few hours before I get home?
Try to determine how long the power has been out. Check the internal temperature of the food in your refrigerator with your quick-response thermometer. A liquid such as milk or juice is easy to check. Spot check other items like steaks or left-overs also. If the internal temperature is above 40 degrees, it is best to throw it out.

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Last Updated 06/04/2014 10:53 AM