July 20, 2024

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Power outage: How long does food last in the refrigerator and freezer?

There's nothing more worrisome than a long power outage in the summer when the refrigerator is full of food. The big question is how long this will last, and which products will be able to withstand several hours without electricity.

The key, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), is how long food will stay at a certain temperature. The company has a list of vulnerable products on its website that should be thrown away if they are left for more than 2 hours at temperatures above 4 degrees.

As you know, this temperature is recommended for a refrigerator. If the temperature regime is disturbed, microbes quickly multiply in food, which can lead to food poisoning. Typical foods that should be thrown away after 2 hours are cooked pizza, raw meat (as well as poultry, fish, seafood), soft cheeses (cottage cheese), milk, yogurts, etc.

But when will the temperature in the refrigerator begin to exceed 4 degrees? The USDA notes that this typically occurs in well-functioning refrigerators. after 4 hours of no power.

Products are stored in freezer 24 to 48 hours, depending on how full it is and how often you open the door. In fact, their “freshness” will last for 48 hours if the freezer is filled to capacity. But if it’s half, it’s only 24 hours.

However, just because some foods are frozen does not mean they are completely safe.Freezing does not kill pathogenic microorganisms, it simply prevents them from developing. Hence any microbial contamination that occurred before you froze them will persist as long as the food is frozensays Dr. Brian Kuok Lee, research scientist in the Department of Chemistry at Pacific Lutheran University.

As a general rule, food that will be defrosted before power is turned on should not be refrigerated/frozen. The USDA also posts guidance on its website about which frozen foods should be thrown away after the power goes out in your home. The general rule is that anything that has ice crystals and is frozen/hard to the touch should be kept, and anything that has thawed should be thrown away. According to the expert, the first foods that usually go bad after a long stay in the refrigerator without electricity are meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftover food.

The freshness of hard cheeses lasts longer, grated cheeses – less. Milk and yogurt are two foods you shouldn't consume if your home has been without power for several hours. Anyway, do not check them for freshness. Many bacteria cause poisoning without changing the taste, smell or appearance of food.

Other foods that can be stored for a long time without electricity are anything that contains sugar, acids and salt or has little moisture. Examples include jams, butter, hard cheeses, breads, peanut butter, soy sauce, and vinegar-based dressings. Whole fruits and vegetables are also durable: they can be stored for several days in a special tray.

If in doubt about freshness, it is better to throw away food than to regret it later and get problems with the gastrointestinal tract, experts emphasize.

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