Food Safety after power outage - tips from Montgomery County, Maryland

County Offers Tips on Keeping Food
Safe During Power Outage
According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food
Safety and Inspection Service, meat, poultry, fish and eggs should be
refrigerated at 40° F and frozen food at or below 0° F, which may be
difficult with a prolonged power outage.

• Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to
maintain the cold temperature. A refrigerator will only keep food safely
cold for about four hours if it is unopened.
• A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24
hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
• Obtain dry ice or block ice to keep your refrigerator as cold as possible
if there is a prolonged power outage. Residents should check with local
retailers for ice supplies.
• Digital, dial or instant-read thermometers and appliance thermometers will
help determine if the food is at safe temperatures. The refrigerator
temperature should be at 40°F or below; the freezer, 0°or lower.
• To be sure a particular food is cold enough; take its temperature with a
food thermometer.
• Never taste food to determine its safety!
• Food may be safely refrozen if the food still contains ice crystal or is
at 40°F or below. Evaluate each food item separately. Be sure to discard any
items in either the freezer or the refrigerator that have come into contact
with raw meat juices.
• Food such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, soft cheeses, butter and
leftover cooked meats, casseroles and pizza should be thrown out if they
have been held above 40° F for over two hours.

For a complete chart and when to save and when to throw out certain foods,
please visit the USDA’s food safety website at