Do you recall the days of no electricity, where you had no computers, cellphones, lights and… refrigerators?
Yeah, me neither, but this could turn into reality for those on the east coast, who may be hit with Hurricane Sandy (or any other hurricanes for that matter).
When the power goes out it’s very frustrating. We seriously take electricity for granted these days. So what should you do about all the food you have stocked in the refrigerator or freezer when there is no power? Here is how to keep your food safe when the power goes down…
- It’s recommended that meat, poultry, fish and eggs stay at or below 40 degrees F and frozen food should remain below 0 degrees F. If you keep your refrigerator closed when the power goes out, you will be able to keep your food cold for up to four hours. A full freezer will keep its temperature for at least 48 hours if full, 24 hours if half full.
- Putting food together in your fridge and freezer can help keep it cold, the FDA points out.
- The FDA also said coolers can help keep refrigerated food keep cold once the power cuts out.
- You will most likely have to discard most foods in your fridge if the power doesn’t come back on for more than 24 hours, but hard cheeses — including Cheddar, Colby, Swiss, Parmesan, provolone, Romano – butter or margarine; opened fruit juices; opened can fruits; Fresh fruits, coconut, raisins, dried fruits, candied fruits, dates; most spreads that do not include milk products; breads; pies; and raw vegetables may be safe even if not kept cold. For a full list of foods, check out FoodSafety.gov’s list.
- If the food has ice crystals and feels as cold as it had been refrigerated, you can refreeze hard cheeses; breads, rolls, muffins, cakes without custard fillings; fruit juice; vegetable juice; cakes, pies, pastries with custard or cheese filling; casseroles – pasta, rice based; flour, cornmeal, nuts; breakfast items including waffles, pancakes, bagels; and frozen meal, entree, specialty items (pizza, sausage and biscuit, meat pie, convenience foods). However, most food will have to be thrown out if it has thawed for over two hours and is over 40 degrees F. A checklist can be found at FoodSafety.gov.
- Shelf-stable food, boxed or canned milk, water, and canned goods should all be safe to eat in case of an emergency.
- Throw away any food that is not in a waterproof container if there is a possibility it touched flood water. This includes screw-cap bottles, snap lids, pull tops, and crimped caps. Food in cardboard boxes are not safe.
- Any cans that are swollen, leaking, punctured, rusted or crushed so badly they cannot be stacked should also be discarded.
If you take these precautions, you will be able to eat without the use of electricity. While that may calm your nerves, the fact that you most likely won’t be able to check your e-mail or charge your phone is a whole other issue.
Best of luck to those on the East Coast affected by the Hurricane!