Food Safety Tips Following a Power Outage

The Guilford County Department of Public Health is offering these food safety tips to help you determine if the food in your refrigerator and freezer will be safe to eat after your power comes back on. Knowing how to determine if food is safe will help minimize the potential loss of food and reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

First of all, NEVER taste food to see if it is safe! It may taste and smell fine but make you very sick. Don’t take the chance of getting ill.

Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible during the power outage. Food kept in a closed refrigerator should last about four hours if the door remains closed. All refrigerators should have a thermometer to regularly check food temperatures. All refrigerated foods should be kept at 40 F or lower. Refrigerated foods can be stored in ice-filled coolers for a short period of time

Refrigerated perishable food such as poultry, fish, meat, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, deli items and leftovers should be discarded after four hours without power. Remember do not taste them!

A full freezer should hold the temperature and keep food frozen for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if half full). If the power has been out for several days, the temperature should be checked with an appliance or food thermometer. Food may be safely eaten or refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40 F or lower.
Always remember, if you doubt if the food is safe, throw it out. Do not taste it!

For more information, you may contact:

Guilford County Department of Public Health at 641-3771 or

US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service at (301) 344-4743

USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), available in English and Spanish from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday – Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.

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