When the Home Freezer Stops When the freezer stops running, the • The freezer itself. (A well- Dry ice may be available from the power supply may be off or the insulated freezer with good gaskets local dairy or cold storage ware- freezer itself may be broken. Don’t will keep food frozen much longer house; or, check the yellow pages worry if you know the freezer will than one with little insulation or under “Dry Ice” or “Carbonic be off only a few hours. poor gaskets.) Gas.” Have the dry ice company • Size of freezer. (The larger the cut it into convenient sizes. Never Steps to follow first freezer, the longer the food will touch dry ice with your hands. 1. If the power is off, try to find stay frozen.) Don’t try to cut or chip the ice out how long it will be off. Check yourself. To prevent burns, wear plug and circuit breaker before Consider moving the food to a gloves when handling dry ice. Do proceeding. locker plant not inhale the vapors. 2. Consult freezer manual to Call the locker plant to see if it is The temperature of a half-full, determine if there is something you operating and, if so, whether it has 10 cubic-foot cabinet can be kept can do to put the freezer back into space. If space is available, wrap below freezing for two to three operation. the food in plenty of newspapers days with about 25 pounds of dry and blankets, or use insulated ice. Food in a fully loaded cabinet 3. Find out how long it will take boxes. Rush the food to the locker will stay frozen three to four days to get a technician to get the freezer plant. if the dry ice is added soon after the running. freezer shuts down. Use dry ice If the home freezer will be off for If locker space is not available and Use 50 pounds of dry ice for a some time, here are some things it looks as though the freezer will 20 cubic-foot freezer. Put heavy you can do to prevent food spoilage. be out of service for more than a cardboard directly on the packages day, use dry ice if available. The of frozen food, then put dry ice on Keep the freezer closed more dry ice used, the longer the the cardboard. Don’t open the A closed freezer acts like an insu- food will stay frozen. freezer again until you need to lated ice chest. Food usually will stay frozen in a fully loaded cabinet for two days if the freezer is kept Do Not Refreeze Safe To Refreeze closed. A freezer that’s partially full will not keep more than one day. • Food that has thawed com- • Foods that still contain ice pletely—especially meat, crystals How long the food in your freezer poultry and seafood • Thawed fruit if it still tastes and will stay frozen depends on: • Prepared, cooked foods such as smells good • The amount of food. pizza, casseroles and stew • Bread, cake, cookies, plain • The kind of food. (A freezer • Any food that has poor or doughnuts full of meat or other dense foods questionable color or odor • Nuts, flour, cereal will not warm up as fast as a • Thawed vegetables • Raw meat and poultry that has freezer full of baked food.) • Creamed foods, puddings or thawed but is still cold (40˚F or • The temperature of the food. other low-acid foods that have less can be refrozen raw or (The colder the food, the longer it thawed cooked thoroughly and refrozen will stay frozen.) • Melted ice cream • Juice • Margarine • Cheese PM 1367 July 1989 Electronic Version March 2001 replace the dry ice or until the How to refreeze food freezer is working again. Cover the freezer with blankets or 1. Clean freezer thoroughly the food well with newspapers and quilts to provide extra insulation. before refilling. blankets before moving it to or Be sure to pin or fasten the cover- Wash all removable parts, gasket from the freezer plant. ings so air-vent openings are not and door liner with warm water and blocked. The power may go on mild detergent. Rinse well. Disin- If you must refreeze food at home, unexpectedly and ventilation will fect using a solution of 1 table- set the temperature control of the be needed. spoon chlorine bleach per quart of freezer to its coldest position. water. Rinse well. When power is restored, the freezer What to do if food thaws will run continuously and food will Generally, perishable foods held 2. Mark foods that are being freeze quicker. Make sure cold air above 40 degrees for over 2 hours refrozen. can circulate freely. After the food should be discarded. Bacteria that is frozen, return the temperature 3. Refreeze thawed food quickly. control to its usual setting. cause food poisoning can multiply The best way is to take the food to to unsafe levels under these condi- a commercial locker plant so it can 4. Use refrozen food as soon as tions. Thawed food can safely be be chilled to 0˚F or below. Wrap possible. refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or if it has thawed, but is have seeped into the insulation. For more information still cold (about 40˚F) and has been This problem requires service by a Additional help is available from kept at refrigerator temperature not technician who may have to re- • Iowa State University Extension more than one or two days. move and replace the insulation. county offices, and • ISU Extension’s Answer Line Partial thawing and refreezing Be prepared by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or reduces the quality of foods, • Locate the nearest locker plant. by phone at 1-800-262-3804 (to use especially fruits and vegetables. Discuss emergency arrangements TDD telecommunications devise for with manager. deaf, call 1-800-854-1658). Handling odor problems • Identify a source of dry ice in your Prepared by Patricia Redlinger, former If food has thawed and spoiled in community. extension food science specialist and the freezer, a thorough cleaning job Diane Nelson, extension communication may not remove the lingering odor. • During the seasons when power specialist. Try the following methods: failure is frequent in your commu- . . . and justice for all nity, it’s good insurance to run the The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) • Wash the interior walls with a freezer between -10˚F and -20˚F. prohibits discrimination in all its programs and solution of 2 tablespoons of baking activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political soda per quart of water. • When buying a freezer, select one beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all with good insulation. A well- • Pour activated charcoal or programs.) Many materials can be made insulated freezer will keep food available in alternative formats for ADA clients. baking soda onto jelly roll pans To file a complaint of discrimination, write cold longer. Replace worn gaskets USDA, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, and place in freezer in two or more that might prevent a tight seal. Whitten Building, 14th and Independence areas. Run freezer for several days. Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call 202-720-5964. Activated charcoal can be purchased • Use care in preparing, packaging in quantity from stores that sell and freezing food. Sanitary prepa- Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in coopera- aquarium supplies. Small amounts ration means fewer bacteria to tion with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. are available from appliance stores. cause spoilage. Frozen bacteria are Stanley R. Johnson, director, Cooperative Extension Service, Iowa State University of Science and not dead; when the temperature Technology, Ames, Iowa. • If these methods do not solve increases they become active and can odor problems, wet drippings may cause spoilage and foodborne illness.