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What to do With the Food in Your Fridge After the Power Goes Out

Nov 18th, 2013 - Local News

WASHINGTON, November 18, 2013—The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing food safety recommendations for the residents of the Midwest to minimize the potential for foodborne illnesses due to the aftermath of the weekend's tornadoes and the severe weather that has followed. Power outages that often result from weather emergencies compromise the safety of stored food, but there are steps that can reduce food waste and the risk of foodborne illness. FSIS wants those affected to be aware of resources available to them and the measures they can take to keep food safe and protect themselves.

The publication “A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes” can be downloaded and printed for reference during a power outage. FSIS’ YouTube video “Food Safety During Power Outages” also has instructions for keeping frozen and refrigerated food safe.

FSIS will provide relevant food safety information as the storm progresses from its Twitter feed @USDAFoodSafety. To get tweets about weather-related food safety issues affecting just your state, follow @XX_FSISAlert, replacing XX with your state or territory's postal abbreviation.

Steps to follow if the power goes out:

• Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water in case of flooding.

• Group food together in the freezer — this helps the food stay cold longer.

• 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.

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