When severe weather hits and the power goes out for a few hours or more, many consumers wonder if it’s safe to consume the foods that are in the refrigerator. The Sandusky County Health Department reminds residents to follow the recommendations provided by the US Food and Drug Administration.
When the power goes out:
• Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
• The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened.
• Refrigerators should be kept at 40 degrees F or below for proper food storage.
Once the power is restored:
• Check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer.
• If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, check the temperature when the power comes back on. If the freezer thermometer reads 40 degrees F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen.
• 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 degrees F or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook.
• Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than four hours. Keep the door closed as much as possible.
• Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40 degrees F for two hours or more Do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, wash your hands, make ice, or make baby formula. Safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene includes bottled, boiled or treated water. In addition, if you feel that any food may have come in contact with flood or storm water, it should also be discarded.
And remember, if you are uncertain about the safety of any foods remember, “When in doubt throw it out.”
For more information, visit the Sandusky County Health Department’s website at www.alwayschoosehealth.com.