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How Long Will Food Last in the Fridge if You Lose Power?

Here are guidelines from the USDA regarding the safety of food in a refrigerator without power.

With Hurricane Sandy predicted to hit us hard today, losing power is a threat. 

The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service prepared a fact sheet for keeping food safe during an emergency, including losing power.

The USDA says to "keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature."

But, the refrigerator will only keep food safely cold for about four hours if unopened during a power outage, according to the USDA. A full freezer will hold the temperature for about 48 hours if full (24 hours of half full), the USDA says.

The USDA emphasizes "never to taste food to determine its safety" and says that you should "evaluate each item separately."

Generally, if the temperature in the thermometer in the freezer reads 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, the food is safe and can be refrozen, according to the USDA. The USDA suggests obtaining dry or block ice to help keep refrigerated or frozen food cold if the power will be out for an extended period of time.

For more details and for a list of "when to save and when to throw it out" for refrigerated and frozen food items, click on this link:

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/keeping_food_safe_during_an_emergency/index.asp

Mels Ditties October 29, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Tip...Turn the temp to the coldest your fridge will go...IF you lose power, you'll have a bit more time for the food to warm up....
Steve October 29, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Wish I would have read this tip sooner. I ate 16 sandwiches and 2 gallons of milk because I didn't want it to go bad.
Judy Mottl (Editor) October 29, 2012 at 03:38 PM
No ice cream Steve? ;)
Denise Scott October 29, 2012 at 04:57 PM
great tip tthanks!
Jefferson Tactics October 29, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Haha. Freaking hilarious. I was thinking about doing the same thing, but I had already ordered pizza. Dammit!
paul October 29, 2012 at 05:03 PM
PB&J's are always good....
P. J. Miller October 29, 2012 at 05:05 PM
you can also buy a bag of ice and put it in the refrigerator in a pan when the power goes out- that plus raising the temp will keep the food colder longer. ICE BOX! Been doing this for years, my grandmother used to it when I was younger and never knew why until years later. Put whatver you can in the freezer as that will last at least 48hours if you don't open it.
P. J. Miller October 29, 2012 at 05:09 PM
grilled cheese - most of us have bbq after the storm passes we can use this as our griddle - just put the sandwich in a tin on the grill and you have a grilled cheese. Hey, it's better than nothing. last hurricane we used it to boil a small pot of water for instant coffee and tea.
paul October 29, 2012 at 05:14 PM
The freezer suggestion is good, only if you have an older refrigerator that is not frost free. Older models you had ice build and needed to defrost it. Now, they are frost free no ice build up.... to take advantage of...... Wont work today..... And I think you meant lowering the temp in the fridge..... ;o)
PatchawgFatGuy October 30, 2012 at 02:35 AM
To see how long and if all your food defrosted. Freeze a cup of water, after the water freezes solid place a penny on top of the ice. When you open the freezer after you get back power or return home from evac. If the penny is at the bottom of the cup and the ice is refrozen or is water it means everything in the freezer is garbage.

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