Storing Food Safely (3 of 3)

Most important now that we are in Hurricane Season …

Typical hardware transformerWhen You Lose Electricity

If you lose electricity, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Your refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if it’s unopened. A full freezer will keep an adequate temperature for about 48 hours if the door remains closed.

Once Power is Restored . . .

You’ll need to determine the safety of your food. Here’s how:

  • If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, check the temperature when the power comes back on. If the freezer thermometer reads 40°F or below, the food is safe and may be re-frozen.
  • If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. You can’t rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40 °F or below, it is safe to re-freeze or cook.
  • Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was not out for more than four hours and the refrigerator door was kept shut. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40°F for two hours or more.

Tips for Non-Refrigerated Items

  • Check canned goods for damage. Can damage is shown by swelling, leakage, punctures, holes, fractures, extensive deep rusting, or crushing or denting severe enough to prevent normal stacking or opening with a manual, wheel-type can opener. Stickiness on the outside of cans may indicate a leak. Newly purchased cans that appear to be leaking should be returned to the store for a refund or exchange. Otherwise, throw the cans away.
  • Don’t store food, such as potatoes and onions, under the sink. Leakage from the pipes can damage the food. Store potatoes and onions in a cool, dry place.
  • Keep food away from poisons. Don’t store non-perishable foods near household cleaning products and chemicals.

This article appears on FDA’s Consumer Update page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

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