Congressional and Public Affairs
Steven Van Der Werff
WASHINGTON, April 30, 2014 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing food safety recommendations for the eastern seaboard affected by a massive storm system that dropped upwards of 10 inches of rain on the region.
The National Weather Service (NWS) reports between 15 and 20 inches of rain in Pensacola, Fla. in 24 hours as of Wednesday morning. According to NWS the flooding appears to be the worst the panhandle has seen in 30 years, and as many as 30,000 residents have been left without power.
The NWS Storm Prediction Center is forecasting a risk of severe thunderstorms Wednesday afternoon and evening from the central Appalachians and Mid-Atlantic across the coastal Southeast to the Florida Panhandle. Damaging wind gusts and large hail will be the main threats. Meanwhile, flash flooding will be possible across a large swath of the eastern U.S., from southern New England to the Gulf Coast.
Power outages from weather emergencies compromise the safety of stored food, but consumers can take steps to reduce food waste and the risk of foodborne illness. The FSIS website provides consumers with resources to keep food safe and protect themselves.
FSIS’ YouTube video “Food Safety During Power Outages” has instructions for keeping frozen and refrigerated food safe. The publication “A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes” can be downloaded and printed for reference during a power outage.
FSIS will provide relevant food safety information as the storm progresses from its Twitter feed @USDAFoodSafety. To get tweets about weather-related food safety issues affecting just your state, follow @XX_FSISAlert, replacing XX with your state or territory's postal abbreviation.
Steps to follow if the power goes out:
Steps to follow after a weather emergency:
Videos detailing food safety information are available in English, Spanish and American Sign Language on FSIS’ YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/USDAFoodSafety. An FSIS Public Service Announcement (PSA) illustrating practical food safety recommendations for handling and consuming foods stored in refrigerators and freezers during and after a power outage is available in 30- and 60-second versions at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/videos-psas/food-safety-public-service-announcements. News organizations and power companies can obtain hard copy (Beta and DVD) versions of the PSA by contacting FSIS’ Food Safety Education Staff at (301) 344-4757.
Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at askkaren.gov or m.askkaren.gov on a smartphone. Mobile Ask Karen can also be downloaded from the Apple and Android app stores. Consumers can e-mail, chat with a live representative or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline directly from the app. To use these features from Mobile Ask Karen, simply choose “Contact Us” from the menu. The live chat option and the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), are available in English and Spanish on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET.