HEADLINES Published May29, 2015 By Bernadette Strong

Five Food Safety Tips for When You Lose Electricity

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You may lose electricity this summer. Here are ways to keep your refrigerated and frozen food safe.
(Photo : Justin Sullivan, Getty Images )

It is summer and that means tornado and thunderstorm season. This is the time of year where you might lose electricity for an hour or two or even lose it for days at a time.

Here are some tips from Bob Gravani, Ph.D., a professor of food science at Cornell University on what you should you do to keep the food in your refrigerator or freezer safe.

  • Have a thermometer in your refrigerator and in your freezer. To keep food from spoiling, the temperature should be at 40 degrees F in your refrigerator and at or below 0 degrees F in your freezer.
  • If the power goes out, try to keep the refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible to keep cold air in. A refrigerator will stay cold for about 4 hours without power and a freezer for 48 hours if it is full.
  • Try to keep your freezer full, when possible. A half empty freezer will only hold its temperature for 24 hours. If you can't keep it full, place your frozen foods all together in one corner of the freezer to help keep them frozen longer.
  • Keep a couple of containers of water frozen in your freezer. These will help keep your freezer cold for a few extra hours while the power is off. You can move one or two containers of ice to the refrigerator to keep that cool longer. This water can also serve as a source of clean drinking water if your water supply is contaminated.
  • Keep a three-day supply of nonperishable food on hand, things like canned goods, pasta or rice, dry milk, and bottled water.

Remember this rule if you lose power and your refrigerated food goes above 40 degrees for more than two hours: When in doubt, throw it out. Do not depend on your sense of smell or on how it looks. 

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