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Script: Food Safety During Severe Storms and Hurricanes

 

Podcasts
Script: Food Safety During Severe Storms and Hurricanes
Intro:
Welcome to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service "Food Safety At Home" podcast series, featuring topics for the safe handling, preparation and storage of meat, poultry and processed egg products. So, sit back, turn up the volume and listen in.

Kid:
Hey dad, that was a really scary storm. I'm glad the power came back on. Now I can watch TV. Can I have something to eat?

Dad:
Let’s first make sure our food is safe to eat. Can you help me by answering a few questions?

Kid:
Sure!

Dad:
OK. How long was the power out? And do you think it is safe to eat the food that is in the refrigerator?

Kid:
OK, the power went out around noon and came back at around 3:30 That means we lost power for about 3 ½ hours. I think you told me before that it has to be under four hours to be safe.

Dad:
That’s right. The refrigerator will keep food at a safe temperature for about 4 hours if the door is unopened. A full freezer will hold the food at a safe temperature for about 48 hours, 24 hours if it is half full and the door is unopened.

So all of our food should be safe. Just to be sure, I always keep an appliance thermometer in both the fridge and freezer. The thermometer in the refrigerator read below 40 ⁰F when the power came back on, so I’m sure all the refrigerated food is safe.

Kid:
I know we didn’t open the refrigerator door during the storm, so that helped keep our food cold.

Dad:
That’s right! But if the power was out for more than 4 hours and the refrigerator thermometer read over 40 ⁰F, we would have to throw away perishable foods such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers, and deli items.

Kid:
How about the chicken nuggets in the freezer? Can we still have them for dinner?

Dad:
Yes - since I knew a storm was coming, I took some precautions. I made sure the freezer was full by grouping foods together and added some frozen containers of water and gel packs. I put them in both the refrigerator and freezer.
I also had coolers and bags of ice ready for the refrigerated foods, just in case the power was out for more than 4 hours.

If our freezer food still contains ice crystals or is 40 °F or below, we can safely refreeze it.

Partial thawing and refreezing may reduce the quality of some food, but the food will remain safe to eat.

So, yes… we can have chicken nuggets for dinner!

But, one more question! If you’re not sure food is safe, should you try a small bite to see if it tastes ok?

Kid:
No, you should never taste food to see if it’s safe. You can’t tell by the way it looks or smells either. I remember what you always say “. When in doubt, throw it out!"

Dad:
Right again. Now let’s get out those chicken nuggets!

Outro:
Thanks for listening to this Food Safety At Home podcast. Let us know what you think of this podcast by sending your comments to podcast@fsis.usda.gov.
Last Modified Nov 08, 2013