Food Safety After a Power Outage: When in Doubt, Throw It Out

Coastal residents who lost power during recent storms may be concerned about the food in their refrigerators – and with good reason. Without electricity, perishable food in refrigerators and freezers may spoil, and eating spoiled food could make people sick. A good post-storm safety mantra for refrigerated and frozen food is, “When in doubt, throw it out.” Spoiled food doesn’t always smell or look bad, so people shouldn’t rely on appearance or odor alone when evaluating food. Here are some general guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): • Throw out perishable food (such as meat, fish, eggs, milk, and leftovers) in your refrigerator when the power has been off for 4 hours or more. • Thawed frozen food that still contains ice crystals can be refrozen or cooked. If not, throw it away. And remember, while the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. This helps prevent cold air from escaping.

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