Power Out? Read These Food Safety Tips

PC Public Health Services District recommends precautions to take to safely handle food after a power outage

Extreme weather conditions such as we have experienced recently with our summer monsoons can have unforeseen effects.

The Pinal County Public Health Services District, Environmental Health Services Division would like to help everyone be aware of proper food safety precautions in the event of a power outage.

If the power goes out, follow these basic tips to keep food safe:

  1. Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.
  • The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened.
  • A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
  1. Buy dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep an 18 cubic foot, fully stocked freezer cold for two days.
  2. If you plan to eat refrigerated or frozen meat, poultry, fish or eggs while they are still at safe temperatures, it is important that each item is thoroughly cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature to ensure that any foodborne bacteria that may be present are destroyed. However, if at any point the food was above 40° F for 2 hours or more (or 1 hour if temperatures are above 90° F) – discard it.

Once the power is restored, determine the safety of your food:

  1. If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, check the temperature when the power comes back on. If the freezer thermometer reads 40° F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen.
  2. If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. You can’t rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40° F or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook.
  3. Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than 4 hours and the refrigerator door was kept shut. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, or leftovers) that has been at temperatures above 40° F for 2 hours or more (or 1 hour if temperatures are above 90º F).

The Pinal County Public Health Services District has a goal to prevent disease, promote health and provide nutrition services to the residents of Pinal County. The Environmental Health Services Division conducts inspections of permitted facilities, monitors the community for disease vectors and investigates public health nuisance complaints. If you would like more information on our programs, or to file a complaint, please visit our webpage at http://pinalcountyaz.gov/ehs or call 866-287-0209.

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