The United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service offers the following advice for people after a severe storm or hurricane that has caused a power outage: “When in doubt, throw it out.”
In fact, the USDA Safe Food Handling Fact Sheet titled “A Consumer's Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes,” says that homeowners should get rid of perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items after four hours without power.
A full freezer, the fact sheet says, will maintain its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full and the door stays closed).
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers the follow food safety tips:
- Never taste a food to check if it is still good to eat.
- After four hours without power or at temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit (F), toss refrigerated perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items.
- Food is safe to refreeze if it still contains ice crystals or it is 40 degrees F or colder.
- If the power has been out for several days, check the temperature on the freezer´s thermometer or use a food thermometer to determine if the food is at 40 degrees F or below (safe). Or, if you haven´t been keeping a thermometer in the freezer, check each package of food for ice crystals to determine its safety.
- If uncooked meat juices have dripped onto other foods, discard those foods.