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Food Safety After a Power Outage

In recent weeks, many of us here in Newfoundland and Labrador have experienced unplanned power outages due to inclement weather. After an unplanned power outage, the biggest food safety concern is with the food that is stored in your refrigerator and freezer.  Here are some general guidelines to help you determine what food can be kept and what can be thrown out.

Refrigerated Food in Power Outage:

  • An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours.
  • Discard food that has been above 4°C for more than 2 hours.

Frozen Food in Power Outage:

  • An unopened full freezer will keep food frozen for about 48 hours.
  • An unopened half-full freezer will keep food frozen for about 24 hours.
  • Discard thawed food that has been above 4°C for more than 2 hours.

It is easier to determine just how long a refrigerator or freezer was without power if you were present when the power outage occurred.  It is a little more difficult to determine just how long a refrigerator or freezer was without power if you were not present during the power outage.  Even if the duration of the power outage is known, there is no certainty that the refrigerator or freezer started up again as soon as the power came back on, unless someone was present to check.   It is also important to remember that, although some spoiled food may look and smell bad, not all spoiled food look and smell bad.  So, the biggest food safety advice is simple.  When is doubt, throw it out!

For further food safety information in emergency situations, please visit the Government of Canada’s Canadian Food Inspection Agency website at www.inspection.gc.ca.

Image sourced from free Clipart.

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