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If power goes out, make sure perishable food is safe to eat

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Hurricane Florence is slated to cause flooding and widespread power outages, which can pose risks when it comes to food safety.

Here are a few things residents can do to prevent food-borne illnesses during the aftermath.

IF THE POWER GOES OUT

• Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible

• A refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if the door is kept closed

• A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours; 24 hours if half-full

• Place meat and poultry to one side of the freezer or on a tray to prevent cross-contamination of thawing juices

WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT

• Check temperature inside refrigerator and freezer. Throw out any food, including meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or leftovers that have been about 40 degrees for two hours or more

• Throw out any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture or feels warm to the touch

• Check frozen food for ice crystals. Food that is partially or completely thawed may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is 40 degrees or below

• Never taste food to decide if it’s safe

• When in doubt, throw it out

FOOD SAFETY AFTER FLOODING

• Don’t eat any food that may have come into contact with floodwater

• Throw away any food that is not in waterproof containers, which includes foods in plastic wrap, cardboard or those with screw caps, snap lids, pull tops and crimped caps.

• Throw away any cardboard juice, milk, baby formula boxes and home-canned food items if they have come in contact with floodwater

• Throw away any food in damaged cans

SOURCE: USDA Food Safety

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