With Hurricane Sandy threatening homes and apartments in Lynchburg, VA, loss of power has many people worried how long food can last in the refrigerator and freezer without electricity. Here are some food safety issues that people should be concerned about.
The top three things to remember are:
Meat, poultry, fish and eggs should stay at or below 40 degrees F and frozen food should remain below 0 degrees F.
- If you keep your refrigerator closed, you will be able to keep your food cold for up to four hours. A full freezer will keep its temperature for at least 48 hours if full, 24 hours if half full.
- Putting food together in your fridge and freezer can help keep it cold.
- The FDA also said coolers can help keep refrigerated food keep cold once the power cuts out.
- Make or buy dry or block ice while you can. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep an 18-cubic foot full freezer for two days.
- You'll have to discard most foods in the fridge, but hard cheeses; butter or margarine; opened fruit juices; opened can fruits; Fresh fruits, coconut, raisins, dried fruits, candied fruits, dates; most spreads that do not include milk products; breads; pies; and raw vegetables may be safe even if not kept cold. For a full list of foods, check out FoodSafety.gov's list.
- If the item has ice crystals and feels as cold as it had been refrigerated, you can refreeze hard cheeses; breads, rolls, muffins, cakes without custard fillings; fruit juice; vegetable juice; cakes, pies, pastries with custard or cheese filling; casseroles - pasta, rice based; flour, cornmeal, nuts; breakfast items including waffles, pancakes, bagels; and frozen meal, entree, specialty items (pizza, sausage and biscuit, meat pie, convenience foods). However, most food will have to be thrown out if it has thawed for over two hours and is over 40 degrees F.
If you have any questions about the food in your home, dispose of it just to be on the safe side.