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Posted August 23, 2011 | comments Leave a comment

Hurricane season: Power outages and food safety

Hurricane Irene is developing and may threaten the East Coast. Advance preparation is important in case your power is disrupted. Here are some recommendations about preparation and ways to determine if your food is safe after a power outage.

Gather general emergency supplies:
• Non-perishable food and beverages, and water supplies for several days
• Battery powered radios with extra batteries
• Flashlights, candles, matches, and alternative light sources
• Camp stove or other emergency cooking equipment
• First aid supplies

Handling foods in refrigerators and freezers when the power's out:
1. Freezers
• Leave the freezer door closed! A full freezer should keep food safe for approximately 2 days; a half-full freezer will keep foods for about a day. Adding a bag of ice will help keep the unit cold.
• Keep a thermometer in your freezer to determine the temperature of the unit.
• Foods can be refrozen if... the food still contains ice crystals or is at 40 degrees or below.
• Throw out foods that have been thawed and held above 40 degrees for over 2 hours. Throw out foods that have come in contact with raw meat juices.

2. Refrigerators
• First it is important to always keep a thermometer in your refrigerator to be sure foods are being stored at 40 degrees or less.
• Keep the refrigerator door closed!
• Refrigerated foods should be safe as long as the power is out no more than 4 hours.
• Discard any perishable foods such as meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, and soft cheeses that have been kept above 40 degrees for more than 2 hours.

Remember, when in doubt throw out. Do not taste foods to determine if they are still safe to eat. Bacteria that cause foodborne illness often cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled.

For a more in-depth list of when to save and when to throw out food go to:

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/keeping_food_Safe_during_an_emergency/index.asp


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