power outage food safetyA power outage can occur at any time because of a storm, natural disaster, accident, or equipment failure. A prolonged power outage can affect the safety of the food in your refrigerator.

Perishable foods, such as meats, milk, and eggs, should not be eaten if they have been above 40 degrees for more than two hours. If the power is out for less than two hours, you do not need to be concerned.

If your power is out, you should not open the refrigerator unless it is absolutely necessary. Food will stay cold for at least a couple of hours in a closed refrigerator. If your freezer is half-full and unopened, the food will say frozen for up to 24 hours. If it is full and unopened, the food will stay frozen for 48 hours.

If your utility company says that it expects the power outage to last more than two to four hours, you should pack perishable foods in a cooler surrounded by ice. Keep the temperature at 40 degrees or below and throw away any foods that are above 40 degrees for more than two hours. You can use a digital thermometer to check the internal temperature of foods. If the power outage is expected to last more than a day, put the items in your freezer in another cooler.

You should discard these foods if they are over 40 degrees for more than two hours:

• Raw or cooked meat, poultry, or seafood; thawing meat or poultry; soy meat substitutes; salads with meat, chicken, shrimp, tuna, or egg; lunchmeat, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, or dried beef; canned meat or fish that is opened or that needs to be refrigerated

• Pizza with any topping

• Casseroles, soups, or stews

• Shredded or low-fat cheese, milk, cream, buttermilk, evaporated milk, sour cream, yogurt, eggnog, soy milk

• Opened baby formula

• Fresh or cooked eggs

• Cut fresh fruit

• Prepackaged greens, cooked vegetables, open vegetable juice

• Opened creamy salad dressings or pasta sauce

• Refrigerator biscuits, rolls, or cookie dough

• Cooked pasta, rice, or potatoes; fresh pasta; pasta salad; baked potatoes; potato salad

• Cheesecake; cream pastries; pies with custard, cheese, or chiffon

• Discard mayonnaise, tartar sauce, or horseradish if it is over 50 degrees for more than eight hours.

If a natural disaster strikes, you might have more to worry about than just the food in your refrigerator. If your home is damaged, you will need insurance coverage to pay for repairs. Petruzelo Insurance can help you compare quotes for homeowners insurance from leading companies. Contact us today for a quote.