Food Safety After a Power Outage

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					                                                                                   PO Box 2223             902 424-1173 T
 Agriculture                                                                Halifax, Nova Scotia           902 424-3948 F
 Food Protection and Enforcement Division, Food Safety Section                         B3J 3C4

                                                           Food Safety After a Power Outage
  Being Prepared                                                 Food:
                                                                 You should stock up on shelf-stable foods — foods
                                                                 that do not require refrigeration. Some suggested
Most households will at some time face a power                   foods are:
outage as a result of a snowstorm, ice storm,                    • ready-to-eat canned foods
natural disaster or flooding. These emergencies                  • shelf-stable milk (UHT)
may create a problem with food safety. Below are                 • canned fruits and juices
some tips to help you prepare for such an                        • high-energy foods such as peanut butter, trail
emergency, and for dealing with food safety.                       mix or nuts

Refrigerators and Freezers:                                      Water:
If you have warning that your electrical power will              Provide bottled water for drinking. Water supplies
be interrupted or live in an area subject to power               can be affected by the disruption of power needed
failures during storms:                                          to pump water into the home. Plan ahead and
• Turn the refrigerator or freezer control to it’s               provide for an emergency water supply — about a
  coldest setting.                                               gallon of water per day for each person.
• Keep several freezer gel packs frozen in your
  freezer.                                                       Preparing Food:
• If there is space in your freezer, fill containers
  such as empty milk cartons with water and                      During a power outage you may have no heat or
  freeze. These blocks of ice will help maintain                 refrigeration and a limited water supply. When you
  temperatures.                                                  have limited heat for cooking you should choose
• Group foods together in the freezer so that they               foods that cook quickly and prepare one-dish
  will protect each other.                                       meals or plan no-cook meals. Some other tips for
• Have one or more coolers on hand to store                      preparing food are:
  refrigerated foods.
• Know where you can obtain block ice for use in         • Cook only what is needed for one meal to limit
  your refrigerator.                                        leftovers.
• Develop freezer sharing plans with friends or          • If using baby formula, make up only enough for
  neighbours.                                               immediate use. Consider powdered formula
• Keep a list of the foods in your freezer so you           which will not require refrigeration after
  know what is in it without opening.                       opening.
• The colder the room the longer the refrigerator        • Wood stoves and fireplaces provide heat sources
  will stay cold.                                           for cooking. Foods can be cooked on skewers,
                                                            grilled or wrapped in foil and cooked in the
If there is any possibility of flooding, basement           fireplace.
freezers should be raised                                                 • Candle warmers and other
up off the floor. This can                                                  devices such as fondue pots
                                  Keep an appliance thermometer             may be used for heating food.
be done by putting the unit
                                  in your refrigerator or freezer at      • Charcoal or gas barbecues or
on cement blocks.
                                  all times. This will let you know         camp stoves can only be used
                                  how cold your unit remains
                                   during the power outage

Page 1                                                                                   Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture
              Is My Food Safe?... Knowing What to Keep
Power outage is probably the most common
problem facing a household during a storm or                              Frozen Foods
natural disaster. This information will help
determine the safety of food during a power outage      As long as the power is off, keep the door of the
or when your refrigerator of freezer is not working.    freezer closed as much as possible.

                                                        Frozen foods in a fully-stocked chest or upright
           Refrigerated Foods                           freezer will stay frozen up to two days, in a half-
                                                        filled freezer for about one day. If the power is
Foods will generally stay safe in a refrigerator for    expected to be off for several days it is safer to move
several hours. If the door is kept closed, food will    the food to another freezer. If moving frozen foods,
remain cold for four to six hours.                      wrap in newspapers and
                                                        place in insulated                   REMEMBER
                                                        coolers. Covering the         If in doubt, toss it out
• Placing blocks of ice in the refrigerator will help
  in keeping the temperature low.                       freezer with blankets or
• If possible transfer food to a refrigerator or        quilts will also help
  freezer that is operating.                            keep it cold.
• Do not open the door any more than is
  necessary.                                            Keep raw meats wrapped and take care that their
                                                        juices do not drip on cooked or other ready-to-eat
To Save or Discard
Discard any perishable foods that may have been         To Save or Discard
above 40°F for more than two hours and any food
that feels warm or has an unusual odor or color.        Foods may partially or completely thaw before
Block ice can be put in the freezer unit of your        power can be restored. The following will help you
refrigerator along with your perishable items such      decide what to keep and what to discard:
as meat, poultry and milk. This will keep these
foods colder.                                           • Food that has thawed but is still cold or feels cold
                                                          as if refrigerated (that is 4°C [40°F] or below)
The following are often implicated with food-             may be refrozen. Raw meat or poultry should first
borne illness and should be discarded if stored           be cooked before
above 4°C (40°F) for two hours or more:                   freezing.
                                                        • Discard any foods            A thermometer placed in
• raw or cooked meat, poultry, seafood and
                                                          where the temperature your refrigerator of
  luncheon meats                                                                       freezer will show you
                                                          has been over 4°C
• casseroles, stews or soups                                                           how cold the food has
                                                          (40°F) for longer than
• milk and soft cheeses                                                                remained during the
                                                          two hours.
• homemade mayonnaise or dressings                                                     power outage and is the
                                                        • Fish and shellfish           safest way to determine
• cooked pasta, potatoes or rice
                                                          should not be refrozen if the food can be saved.
• salads made with any of these foods
                                                          if they have
                                                          completely thawed.
Foods that can be stored above 4°C (40°F) for
                                                        • Frozen dinners, desserts and ice cream should not
several days include:
                                                          be refrozen.
• butter and margarine
                                                        • Prepared foods may be refrozen but should be
• hard or processed cheese
                                                          marked so they can be used as soon as possible.
• fresh fruits and vegetables
• mustard, ketchup, olives
                                                            For further information on food safety visit the
• salad dressings, peanut butter, barbeque sauce
                                                               Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture
• jams and jellies
                                                                         Food Safety website at
Page 2                                                                       Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture

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