By Samuetta Hill Drew
The power is back on now – hallelujah! You have taken all the necessary safety tips known to preserve your food. So, what are your recommended next steps to know what foods to keep and those to discard – this is the question?
The information provided in this article are safety food recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Safety Health Institute and other professional organizations. The intent of these food safety recommendations is to help keep you and your family healthy and safe when preparing and eating foods after a power outage.
The best rule to start with is NEVER taste food to determine if it is safe to eat. The best practice to follow is “when in doubt, throw it out.” Make sure to check temperatures of food items kept in coolers or your refrigerator with an added cold source. If you have an appliance thermometer in your freezer, check to see if it is still at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Note, you can safely refreeze or cook thawed frozen food that still contains ice crystals or is at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
Throw out perishable food in your refrigerator after four hours without power or a cold source like dry ice. Throw out any food with an unusual odor, color, or texture.
Some recommended food items to DISCARD that were held above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for over two hours:
•raw or leftover cooked meat, poultry, fish, or seafood; soy meat substitutes.
•thawing meat or poultry
•salads: meat, tuna, shrimp, chicken, or egg salad
•gravy, stuffing, broth
•lunch meats, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, dried beef
•pizza – with any topping
•canned hams labeled “Keep Refrigerated”
•canned meats and fish, opened
•casseroles, soups, stews
•soft cheeses, shredded and low-fat cheeses
•milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, evaporated milk, yogurt, eggnog, soy milk
•custards and puddings, quiche
•fresh fruits, cut
Some recommended food items to KEEP that were held above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for over two hours:
•grated Parmesan, Romano, or combination (in a can or jar).
•fruit juices, opened
•canned fruits, opened
•fresh fruits, coconut, raisins, dried fruits, candied fruits, dates
Hopefully, this safety series has provided you with new and/or refresher information to help Keep an Eye on Safety for you and your family during and after a power outage.