Welcome to USDAs 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.
Audio Sound Effect: Rain and thunderstorm in the background
Sounds like the storms getting bad. I sure hope I don't lose power again.
Sound Effect: Loud Thunder
Uh oh, there it goes. The power's out! Where's that flashlight?
Sound Effect: Glass breaking
Oops, that's not it!
Sound familiar? When the power goes out you can lose more than just a broken object.
Welcome to Food Safety at Home. I'm Tina Hanes, Technical Information Specialist for the Meat and Poultry Hotline.
Sound effect: rumble of thunder in background
Thunderstorms can knock out power for several hours or even days. Knowing how to keep food safe can help minimize the potential loss of food and reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
Joining me today is Kathy Bernard also a Technical Information Specialist for the Meat and Poultry Hotline. We are going to give you tips on how you can Be Food Safe when the power goes out.
First, It's important to be prepared. Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer at all times. This way you won't have to guess how cold the unit is when the power comes back on. Itll give you the exact temperature. Make sure the freezer is zero degrees Fahrenheit or below and the refrigerator should be forty degrees Fahrenheit or below.
The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about four hours if it's left unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for about forty-eight hours. If it's half-full then it's about twenty-four hours as long as the door stays closed. Its important to remember that keeping the doors closed helps maintain the cold temperature.
If a major storm is anticipated, like a hurricane, you may be without power for several days. Coolers are a great way to help keep food cold especially if the power will be out for more than four hours. Buy or make ice cubes ahead of time and store them in the freezer for use in the refrigerator or cooler, frozen gel packs work great too. Buy block ice or dry ice to keep your refrigerator and freezer as cold as possible. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an eighteen-cubic-foot full freezer for two days.
When the power returns, never taste a food to determine if it's safe. Check the temperature of the freezer. If the temperature is at forty degrees Fahrenheit or below, the food is safe.
If you don't have a thermometer in the freezer, then check each food package to determine its safety. If the food still has ice crystals, its safe and can be refrozen.
Remember, the refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about four hours if it's left unopened. Discard any refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers, and deli items after four hours without power. Also discard cut-up fruits and vegetables if theyve stayed above 40 F for more than two hours.
Finally, When in doubt, throw it out!
Audio scene: Back to consumer at home in the dark
I know that flashlight is around somewhere. Uh Oh!
Sound Effect: Glass breaking again
You can learn more about being prepared for a power outage by visiting the FSIS Web site at www.fsis.usda.gov. Or visit us online for assistance from our virtual representative Ask Karen at
askkaren.gov. You can also Chat live between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.
You can talk to a food safety expert by calling the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline. Thats 1-888-674-6854.
In addition, you can visit the governments food safety Web site at
Thats it for this week. Im Tina Hanes and I'd like to thank you for joining me for this episode of Food Safety at Home. And remember, Be Food Safe.
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