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Food Safety Urged During Outages

August 2, 2008

By American News, Aberdeen, S.D.

Aug. 2–Food safety is a primary concern for food stored in refrigerators or freezers when residents are without power, according to a news release from the Brown County Extension Service.

If you are still experiencing limited power access, it is important to monitor refrigerators and freezers to be sure that the food is being stored at a safe temperature. Following are some considerations:

— Food in a full freezer will keep two days, a half-full freezer will keep food frozen 1 day.

— Chest freezers will keep food frozen longer that upright models.

Because it’s been more than one or two days after the storm, and if you are experiencing limited or no power, it is time to make some decisions about whether to keep or discard food.

— Food that has been at room temperature, or above 41 degrees for four or more hours should be discarded. These foods include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, egg substitutes (raw or cooked), milk, cream, cheese, prepared foods such as casseroles, custards or creamed foods, cut melons or cooked vegetables.

— If food in a freezer had begun to thaw and has ice crystals in it, or has NOT been at 41 degrees or higher, it can be refrozen.

— If meat has thawed and juices have dripped from the package, any food exposed to these meat juices should be discarded including breads, vegetables, etc.

— Food in a refrigerator should have been moved to coolers. The storage temperature should be about 35 degrees, this will maintain the internal temperature of the food at 41 degrees or lower.

— If you cannot move the food from your freezer to another location with power, use dry or block ice to keep your freezer as cold as possible. Heavy blankets can be put over the freezer to help insulate. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic-foot full freezer for two days.

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Copyright (c) 2008, American News, Aberdeen, S.D.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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