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Power Outages & Food Safety

APRIL 28, 2011 – The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is advising the public and food premise operators to consider food safety during power outages. Without electrical power refrigerators and freezers will lose ability to store foods at safe temperatures. Foods stored in fridges should be held at 4°C or less while foods stored in freezers should be held at -18°C or less. Temperatures above 4°C and below 60°C are favourable for the growth of harmful bacteria and other microorganisms.

Here are some helpful tips to ensure your food remains safe during a power outage:

  • Note the time the power outage started in order to keep track of how long your refrigerator(s) and freezer(s) have been without power. Knowing this will help you determine what foods may be safe to eat and those that are not.
  • A refrigerator without power should keep food cool for about 4-6 hours if the door is kept closed.
  • Place perishable items such as meats, dairy and seafood in the coldest section of the fridge while the power is out. Better yet, meats and seafood may be stored in the freezer.
  • Throw out perishable foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and leftovers that have been at temperatures above 4°C for more than two hours.
  • A full freezer without power will keep items frozen for about 2 days. A half full freezer will keep items frozen for about 1 day.
  • Partial thawing and refreezing may reduce the quality of some food, but the food will remain safe to eat if they still contain ice crystals or are at 4°C or below. You will have to evaluate each item separately.
  • Keep doors to fridges and freezers closed as much as possible to minimize loss of cold air.
  • Ice inside fridges and freezers should help keep them cold.
  • Contact your doctor or pharmacist for information about proper storage of medication that requires refrigeration, such as insulin.
  • WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT.

It is always best to err on the side of caution. If you are unsure about the safety of your perishable foods, discard them. For more information local residents can contact the Haldimand Norfolk Health Unit at 519-426-6170.

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Media Contact:
Sandy Stevens,
Program Co-ordinator
Healthy Environment Team
Haldimand Norfolk Health Unit
519-426-6170 ext 3216
Sandy.stevens@hnhu.org