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Protecting foods from power failures

Foods to be concerned about

  • Time/Temperature Control for Safety Food*
  • Some foods may remain safe but the quality may be affected by increases in temperature. These foods include salad dressings, mayonnaise, butter, margarine, produce, hard cheeses, and so on.
  • Some foods are safe. These are carbonated beverages, unopened bottled juices, ketchup, mustard, relishes, jams, peanut butter, barbecue sauce, and so on.

Protect foods when the power goes out

  • Try to keep the doors closed on your refrigerators and freezers as much as possible. This keeps the cold air inside. A full freezer can stay at freezing temperatures about 2 days; a half-full freezer about 1 day.
  • If you think the power will be out for several days, try to find some ice to pack inside your refrigerator. Remember to keep your raw foods separate from your ready-to-eat foods.

When to save and throw out food

  • Refrigerated foods should be safe as long as the power is out no more than a few hours and the refrigerator/freezer doors have been kept closed. Time/Temperature Control for Safety foods* should be discarded if they warm up above 41º F.
  • Frozen foods that remain frozen are not a risk. If Time/Temperature Control for Safety foods* are thawed, but are still cold or have ice crystals on them, you should use them as soon as possible. If Time/Temperature Control for Safety foods* are thawed and are warmer than 41° F, you should discard them.

What to do when the power goes back on

Allow time for refrigerators to reach the proper temperature of less than 41º F before restocking. Restock with fresh foods, as necessary.

How to know when food is unsafe to eat

  • You cannot rely on appearance or odor. Never taste food to determine its safety.
  • Some foods may look and smell fine; however, if they have been warm too long, they may contain food poisoning bacteria in quantities that could make you sick.
  • If possible, use a thermometer to check the temperature of the foods. If Time/Temperature Control for Safety Foods* are found to be less than 41º F, then they should be considered safe.