November 18, 2019

Winter Weather Food Safety Tips

Most people think about food poisoning during warm weather months, but food poisoning can happen any time of the year. In the winter, power outages are the issue. Foodsafety.gov is offering winter weather food safety tips.

Winter Food Safety Tips

Winter storms and blizzards can cause power outages. When that happens, food in your refrigerator or freezer can become too warm, putting perishable products into the danger zone of 40°F to 140°F. In that temperature range, pathogenic bacteria can double in size every 20 minutes.

If a power outage happens in your area, the first thing to remember is to keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep food at a safe temperature for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep food frozen for 48 hours. But if your freezer is only half full, food will stay frozen for 24 hours.

And don’t think that an outdoor refrigerator or freezer will keep food safe, or that putting foods outdoors when the temperature is below freezing is safe. Outside temperatures can vary, and food outdoors can be exposed to animals.

But you can use ice in your fridge or freezer to use those appliances as an “icebox.” Fill buckets or cans with water and let them freeze outside. Use this ice to keep food cold.

It’s also important to isolate meats and poultry in the freezer or fridge. Raw juices from those foods can cross-contaminate other foods if they thaw.

Once the power is back on, check the temp inside your fridge and freezer. The fridge should be below 40°F. If any perishable foods have been above that temperature for two hours or more, throw it away.

If food in the freezer is partially thawed, it can be re-frozen if it still has ice crystals or is below 40°F. Just remember: when in doubt, throw it out.

 

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