Script: Food Safety During a Power Outage
Welcome to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service
Food Safety at home podcast series. These podcasts were
designed with you in mind - the consumer - who purchases and
prepares meat, poultry and processed egg products for your family and friends.
Each episode will bring you a different food safety topic ranging
from safe storage, handling, and preparation of meat, poultry and
processed egg products to the importance of keeping foods safe
during a power outage.
So sit back, turn up the volume and listen in.
Welcome to "Food Safety at Home." My name is Gertie Hurley from the Food Safety
Education Staff of FSIS. I’m your host for this week’s session. Loss of power can
happen anytime of the year. A storm, high winds, snow, ice, or an electrical problem
with the local utility company can jeopardize the safety of your food. Knowing how to
tell if your food is safe and how to keep it safe will help minimize the potential
loss of food and reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Planning ahead is key.
With me today is Kathy Bernard, from the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline. We will
provide some tips on things you can do to keep your food safe during a power outage.
Kathy, do you want to start?
Sure, there are several steps you can follow to prepare for a power outage.
It’s important to keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer.
Thermometers can be especially helpful in determining the safety of the food when the
power goes out.
Also, make sure the freezer is at 0 °f or below and the refrigerator is at 40 °f or
Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold in the freezer,
refrigerator, or coolers when the power is out.
Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk, and fresh meat and poultry
that you may not need immediately. Freezing these items will help keep them at a safe
Another tip is to group food together in the freezer-this helps the food stay cold
Know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased.
Also, keep gel packs in the freezer so they can be used in coolers. Have an extra set
of appliance thermometers on hand for the coolers so you will know the temperature of
Remember these points during or after a power outage:
Never taste a food to determine if it’s safe!
Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the
cold temperature. When the doors are left closed refrigerated food will stay cold and
safe for about 4 hours.
A full freezer will hold the temperature approximately 48 hours (a half full freezer
for approximately 24 hours if the door has been kept closed).
Food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °f or below.
Obtain block ice or dry ice to keep your refrigerator and freezer as cold as possible
if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of time. Fifty pounds of dry
ice should hold an 18-cubic-foot full freezer for 2 days.
If the power’s been out for several days, check the temperature of the freezer with an
appliance thermometer. If the food still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °f or
below, the food is safe.
If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to
determine its safety. If the food still contains ice crystals, the food is safe.
Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk,
eggs, leftovers, and deli items after 4 hours without power.
Host and Guest:
And finally, when in doubt, throw it out!
That's it for this week. Kathy Bernard from the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline of FSIS
has been with us today. Thank you Kathy. I’m Gertie Hurley and I’d like to thank you
for joining us for this episode of "Food Safety at Home" and remember, “Be Food Safe.”
Well, that’s all for this time. Thanks for joining us today
for another episode of food safety at home!
For answers to your food safety questions call USDA's toll-free
meat and poultry hotline at 1-888-mphotline. That’s
You can also get answers to food safety questions online from our
virtual representative "ask karen" at
Let us know what you think of this podcast by sending your
comments to email@example.com.
Thanks for tuning in.