September 16, 2008

Health Officials Offer Advice About Food in Power Outage

By Allison M Heinrichs

The Allegheny County Health Department is warning people today to use caution in preserving perishable food in the wake of extensive power outages throughout the region.

Some foods that look and smell fine can still be dangerous if they've been at room temperature longer than two hours. Such conditions can cause bacteria to multiply rapidly and some bacteria produce toxins that are not destroyed by cooking and can make people sick.

Health officials recommend the following:

Use appliance thermometers in refrigerators and freezers. Safe temperature is below 40 degrees for refrigerators and 0 degrees for freezers.

Keep freezer doors shut. A full freezer will keep food safe for about two days and a half-full freezer about one day.

Refrigerated items should be safe as long as the power has been out no more than six hours and the doors are kept closed.

Discard any perishable food that has been above 40 degrees for two hours or more.

For more advice, call the Health Department at 412-687-ACHD or visit

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