Myth: If the power goes out for more than two hours, I'm going to have to throw all my food away.
- Your refrigerator will probably hold its temperature for 4 hours if you don't open the door.
- Tip: From the moment the power goes out, don't open the door. I actually tape it shut so no one forgets. If these power outage lasts 4 hours, then I might add ice and rearrange ingredients.
- A deep freeze will stay frozen two days if it's full and one day if it's half full.
- Tip: Those bottles of water frozen in the bottom are a cheap insurance policy.
- A freezer with an attached fridge will stay colder a shorter amount of time, but you can add dry ice, block ice, or bag ice to any freezer to preserve the temperature.
- Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic foot full freezer for 2 days.
- Tip: Know where to buy dry ice and block ice now. In a prolonged emergency, it will be bought up in hours.
- If the food is partly frozen, still has ice crystals, or is at least 40 °F (as it were in a refrigerator.) You may refreeze it immediately.
- Although meat and most dairy need to go, there are a number of items that should be fine if the power was out less than a week. Hard cheeses, condiments, breads, and other items may be safe to eat or refreeze. You can find a chart of these items here.
- Separate meat and poultry from other items in the refrigerator or freezer so that dripping juices won't contaminate other foods.
- Tip: This is a safe way to store your food everyday. It's what the drawers are for.
- Although the air temperature might be cold enough, the sun's rays can still thaw food. Also the hourly temperature variations can lead to a false sense of security about the safety of food.
- Tip: You can put water in bottles, buckets, and other containers outside to freeze and bring those in to store in the freezer.
- Food stored outside may also come in contact with contaminants from the soil, wind, and animals. Temperature fluctuation also causes food quality issues.
- Two types of bacteria are at work here. Spoilage bacteria make food deteriarate, smell bad and represent a quality issue; however, if you ate these bacteria the probably wouldn't make you ill.
- Pathogenic bacteria grow rapidly between 40° and 140°F and do not affect taste, smell or appearance of food. You usually cannot tell these are present, but they will make you ill.
- Tip: An appliance thermometer is the best way to know the actual temperature in your refrigerator and freezer. Consider buying one for each of your home appliances. A food thermometer will help you know food's accurate internal temperature, which you can use regularly to check the doneness of meat as well.
- Food that has been over 40 °F for more than two hours. (Use this chart for exceptions.)
- All food contacted by dripping meat juices.
- Items that have reduced quality from the temperature flux, like ice cream.
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