February 26, 2020

Keeping Food Safe During a Blizzard

A huge winter storm is headed towards the Northeastern United States. As consumers prepare, the USDA has issued a consumer alert on keeping food safe during an emergency. The storm could leave entire communities without power for days.

Winter-Storm-BlizzardUSDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Administrator Al Almanza said, “major winter storms that bring heavy snow, ice, and strong winds can impact food safety. Consumers who are in the path of the winter storm headed for the Northeastern U.S. should know there is information available so they can ensure the safety of the food and water they may consume, even in the event of power outages.”

Read the steps to follow carefully to make sure that the food in your home is safe to eat. Make sure you have an appliance thermometer to check on the temperature of your fridge and freezer. Plan ahead and know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased. Freeze containers of water for ice to keep food cold in the freezer. And have coolers on hand if the power goes out.

If the power goes out, keep fridge and freezer doors closed to maintain temperature. A fridge keeps food safe for 4 hours if unopened. A full freezer will hold safe temperatures for 48 hours (24 hours if only half full) if the door is closed. Dry ice and block ice can help keep food at safe temperatures, but if food in the freezer doesn’t contain ice crystals, discard it.

After the power is back on, make sure that no one ever taste foods to see if it is safe. You can use a food thermometer to make sure that the food is below 40°F in the case of refrigerated food, and below 32°F for frozen food. And when in doubt, throw it out. The cost of food is less than a case of severe food poisoning.

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