Food Facts: Food Safety

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5 Food Safety Tips for When the Power Goes Out

It’s tornado season, so there’s a chance the power could go out at any time during a storm. Bob Gravani, PhD, CFS, a Professor of Food Science at Cornell University and a member for the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), provides several tips to keep food safe during a power outage.

  1. Make sure you have an appliance thermometer in your refrigerator and freezer. Your refrigerator should be at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and your freezer should be at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Have some coolers on hand to store refrigerated foods. Freeze containers of water, as well as ice cubes and gel packs, ahead of time for use in coolers to keep food as cold as possible if the power goes out. Plan ahead and know where to buy dry ice and block ice.
  3. Keep the doors to your refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible. Your refrigerator should maintain its cold temperature for about four hours without power. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours, but only 24 hours if it is half full.
  4. When in doubt, throw it out. If at any point food is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours or more, throw it away. Never taste food to determine if it’s safe or depend on appearance or odor. Food in the freezer that still has ice crystals can be to refrozen or cooked, but better to toss it out if you’re unsure. Eating food not kept at the proper temperature may cause illness even if it is thoroughly cooked.
  5. Keep a three-day supply of nonperishable food that doesn’t require refrigeration or cooking such as canned goods and boxed milk. And don’t forget to stock up on bottled water.

Source: Bob Gravani, PhD, CFS, IFT member, Professor of Food Science at Cornell University

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