USDA Offers Tips to Keep Food Safe During Storm Related Outages
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued recommendations to help minimize the potential for foodborne illnesses in the event that today’s storm leaves communities without electricity.
USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Administrator Al Almanza says power outages that often result from weather emergencies compromise the safety of stored food, and planning ahead can minimize the risk of foodborne illness.
Steps To Follow If The Power Goes Out:
Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
A refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if you keep the door closed.
A full freezer will keep its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
If the power is out for an extended period of time, buy dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully-stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.
Steps To Follow After A Weather Emergency:
Check the temperature in the refrigerator and freezer. If the thermometer reads 40° F or below, the food is safe.
If no thermometer was used in the freezer, check each package. If food still contains ice crystals or is at 40°F or below when checked with a food thermometer, it may be safely refrozen.
Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items) that have been kept in a refrigerator or freezer above 40° F for two hours or more.
Discard any food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with flood water. Containers that are not waterproof include those with screw-caps, snap lids, pull tops, and crimped caps. Discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers.
Thoroughly wash all metal pans, ceramic dishes and utensils that came in contact with flood water with hot soapy water and sanitize by boiling them in clean water or by immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water.
Undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans and retort pouches (for example, flexible, shelf-stable juice or seafood pouches) can be saved. Follow the Steps to Salvage All-Metal Cans and Retort Pouches in the publication “Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency.”
Use bottled water that has not been exposed to flood waters. If bottled water is not available, tap water can be boiled for safety.
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