The following will help minimize the potential for food-borne illnesses due to power outages:
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain cold temperatures. Each time the door is opened, a significant amount of refrigeration is lost.
- Refrigerators will keep food safely cold for about four hours if unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full and the door remains closed.)
- Food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40 degrees or below.
- Never taste a food to determine its safety.
- Dry or block ice can be used to keep refrigerators and freezers as cold as possible during prolonged power outages. Fifty pounds of dry ice should maintain an 18-cubic-foot, full freezer for two days.
- If the power has been out for several days, check the temperature of the freezer with an appliance thermometer or food thermometer. If the food still contains ice crystals or is at 40 degrees or below, the food is safe.
- If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. If the food still contains ice crystals, the food is safe.
- Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items after four hours without power.
- When in doubt, throw it out.
For more information on food safety, consumers may contact the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture at 1-866-366-3723.