Food Safety

Food Safety

Before an outage

Keep an appliance thermometer in your refrigerator and freezer at all times to monitor temperatures. The refrigerator should be kept at 40°F or lower and the freezer at 0°F or lower.

Maintain a reasonably full freezer and refrigerator. If the power goes out, a full freezer or refrigerator will stay cold longer than one that's nearly empty. Consider freezing containers of water to help keep the freezer full.

During a power outage

Keep freezer and refrigerator doors closed—open them only when absolutely necessary. As a general rule:

  • Food will stay frozen for 36-48 hours or longer in a fully loaded freezer, depending on the surrounding room temperature, if you keep the door closed.
  • A half-full freezer will generally keep food frozen for about 24 hours if the door is closed.
  • Food in a closed, reasonably full refrigerator will stay safely cool up to 4 hours.
  • If you have medication that requires refrigeration, check with your pharmacist for guidance on proper storage during an extended outage.

For an extended outage, placing dry ice in the top shelf of your freezer and bottom shelf of your refrigerator can help keep your food cold. To find out where to purchase dry ice, check the yellow pages under “Dry Ice” or “Carbonic Gas”. In general, 50 pounds of dry ice can keep food cold in an 18 cubic foot freezer for two days. Dry ice must be handled very carefully.

After an outage

When power is restored, check right away to see if any foods have thawed. Check the foods before they refreeze.

Use the following guidelines

In most cases, food can be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals. Food that has thawed to room temperature should be thrown away.

  • Meat and poultry (raw): If fully thawed but still cold, it can be cooked and eaten or cooked and refrozen.
  • Fish and shellfish: If fully thawed and at refrigerator temperature no more than 24 hours, it can be cooked and eaten. Throw it away if it's been at refrigerator temperature more than 24 hours.
  • Cooked foods: If cooked meats, poultry, fish, casseroles, pizzas or other combination foods were frozen and now have thawed, do not refreeze them.

Refreezing foods

Label foods so you know they have been refrozen. Try to use them within two to three months.

For more information