Food Safety: What foods can I save when the power has been out?

Whenever there is a power outage, I get e-mails asking ” what foods can I save and what do I have to discard when my refrigerator has been off for hours?” I thought this would be a good time to remind you that the USDA web site has guidelines to help you decide which foods in your refrigerator and freezer are safe to keep if your power has been off. If you have questions that aren’t answered there, you can call the USDA Meat and Poultry hotline at 1-888-674-6854 (1-888-MPHotline) between 10 am and 4 pm EST weekdays or contact Ask Karen, the Food Safety and Inspection Service virtual representative at any time.

It is a good idea to print the information before you need it and store it with the candles and extra batteries. If the food in your refrigerator has been held above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for over 2 hours much of it will need to be discarded. Some of the things that may be kept if the temperature has been above 40 degrees for several hours longer are hard cheeses such as Cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan, provolone, and Romano, fresh and dried fruit, jelly, relish, barbecue and soy sauce, mustard, ketchup, and olives. The USDA recommends discarding opened Worcestershire sauce, fish and oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, and salad dressings with the exception of oil and vinegar dressing.

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One Response to Food Safety: What foods can I save when the power has been out?

  1. Susan Schuff says:

    Thank you Sara, hope all went well for you and yours. Living on the Gulf now, it is wonderful to know there is a site for questions. I make lots of ice and put into ice chests and put whatever we will eat in there (for 1 day), then hope NOT to open refrigerators or freezers. It has worked well for 52 hours. Truly don’t want to test anymore!
    We miss our coffee most.

    How thoughtful of you to think of others, when you were facing such uncertainties. Thank you!

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