Food Safety during an Emergency - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

In The Kitchen

Food Safety during an Emergency

The Northeast Texas Public Health District has plenty of tips for food safety if your power goes out for an extended period of time.

Steps to Follow to Prepare for a Possible Weather Emergency:
Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer. An appliance thermometer will indicate the temperature in the refrigerator and freezer in case of a power outage and help determine the safety of the food.

  • Make sure the freezer is at 0 °F (Fahrenheit) or below and the refrigerator is at 40 °F or below.
  • Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator, or coolers after the power is out.
  • Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk, and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately-this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
  • Plan ahead and know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased.
  • Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water in case of flooding.
  • Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than 4 hours. Purchase or make ice cubes and store in the freezer for use in the refrigerator or in a cooler. Freeze gel packs ahead of time for use in coolers.
  • Group food together in the freezer - this helps the food stay cold longer.

Steps to Follow During and After the Weather Emergency:

  • Never taste a food to determine its safety!
  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.
  • The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full and the door remains closed).
  • Food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °F or below.
  • Obtain block ice or dry ice to keep your refrigerator and freezer as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic-foot full freezer for 2 days.
  • If the power has been out for several days, then check the temperature of the freezer with an appliance thermometer or food thermometer. If the food still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °F or below, the food is safe.
  • If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, then check each package of food to determine its safety. If the food still contains ice crystals, the food is safe.
  • Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers, and deli items after 4 hours without power.
  • When in Doubt, Throw it Out!

When to Save and When to Throw It Out

FOOD

Held above 40 °F for over 2 hours

MEAT, POULTRY, SEAFOOD

Raw or leftover cooked meat, poultry, fish, or seafood; soy meat substitutes

Discard

Thawing meat or poultry

Discard

Meat, tuna, shrimp,chicken, or egg salad

Discard

Gravy, stuffing, broth

Discard

Lunchmeats, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, dried beef

Discard

Pizza - with any topping

Discard

Canned hams labeled "Keep Refrigerated"

Discard

Canned meats and fish, opened

Discard

CHEESE

Soft Cheeses: blue/bleu, Roquefort, Brie, Camembert, cottage, cream, Edam, Monterey Jack, ricotta, mozzarella, Muenster, Neufchatel, queso blanco, queso fresco

Discard

Hard Cheeses: Cheddar, Colby, Swiss, Parmesan, provolone, Romano

Safe

Processed Cheeses

Safe

Shredded Cheeses

Discard

Low-fat Cheeses

Discard

Grated Parmesan, Romano, or combination (in can or jar)

Safe

DAIRY

Milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, evaporated milk, yogurt, eggnog, soy milk

Discard

Butter, margarine

Safe

Baby formula, opened

Discard

EGGS

Fresh eggs, hard-cooked in shell, egg dishes, egg products


Discard

Custards and puddings

Discard

CASSEROLES, SOUPS, STEWS

Discard

FRUITS

Fresh fruits, cut


Discard

Fruit juices, opened

Safe

Canned fruits, opened

Safe

Fresh fruits, coconut, raisins, dried fruits, candied fruits, dates

Safe

SAUCES, SPREADS, JAMS

Opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce, horseradish

Discard if above 50 °F for over 8 hrs.

Peanut butter

Safe

Jelly, relish, taco sauce, mustard, catsup, olives, pickles

Safe

Worcestershire, soy, barbecue, Hoisin sauces

Safe

Fish sauces (oyster sauce)

Discard

Opened vinegar-based dressings

Safe

Opened creamy-based dressings

Discard

Spaghetti sauce, opened jar

Discard

BREAD, CAKES, COOKIES, PASTA, GRAINS

Bread, rolls, cakes, muffins, quick breads, tortillas


Safe

Refrigerator biscuits, rolls, cookie dough

Discard

Cooked pasta, rice, potatoes

Discard

Pasta salads with mayonnaise or vinaigrette

Discard

Fresh pasta

Discard

Cheesecake

Discard

Breakfast foods - waffles, pancakes, bagels

Safe

PIES, PASTRY

Pastries, cream filled


Discard

Pies - custard,cheese filled, or chiffon; quiche

Discard

Pies, fruit

Safe

VEGETABLES

Fresh mushrooms, herbs, spices


Safe

Greens, pre-cut, pre-washed, packaged

Discard

Vegetables, raw

Safe

Vegetables, cooked; tofu

Discard

Vegetable juice, opened

Discard

Baked potatoes

Discard

Commercial garlic in oil

Discard

Potato Salad

Discard

Frozen Food

When to Save and When To Throw It Out

FOOD

Still contains ice crystals and feels as cold as if refrigerated

Thawed.
Held above 40 °F for over 2 hours

MEAT, POULTRY, SEAFOOD

Beef, veal, lamb, pork, and ground meats


Refreeze


Discard

Poultry and ground poultry

Refreeze

Discard

Variety meats (liver, kidney, heart, chitterlings)

Refreeze

Discard

Casseroles, stews, soups

Refreeze

Discard

Fish, shellfish, breaded seafood products

Refreeze. However, there will be some texture and flavor loss.

Discard

DAIRY

Milk


Refreeze. May lose some texture.


Discard

Eggs (out of shell) and egg products

Refreeze

Discard

Ice cream, frozen yogurt

Discard

Discard

Cheese (soft and semi-soft)

Refreeze. May lose some texture.

Discard

Hard cheeses

Refreeze

Refreeze

Shredded cheeses

Refreeze

Discard

Casseroles containing milk, cream, eggs, soft cheeses

Refreeze

Discard

Cheesecake

Refreeze

Discard

FRUITS

Juices


Refreeze


Refreeze. Discard if mold, yeasty smell, or sliminess develops.

Home or commercially packaged

Refreeze. Will change texture and flavor.

Refreeze. Discard if mold, yeasty smell, or sliminess develops.

VEGETABLES

Juices


Refreeze


Discard after held above 40 °F for 6 hours.

Home or commercially packaged or blanched

Refreeze. May suffer texture and flavor loss.

Discard after held above 40 °F for 6 hours.

BREADS, PASTRIES

Breads, rolls, muffins, cakes (without custard fillings)


Refreeze


Refreeze

Cakes, pies, pastries with custard or cheese filling

Refreeze

Discard

Pie crusts, commercial and homemade bread dough

Refreeze. Some quality loss may occur.

Refreeze. Quality loss is considerable.

OTHER

Casseroles - pasta, rice based

Refreeze

Discard

Flour, cornmeal, nuts

Refreeze

Refreeze

Breakfast items - waffles, pancakes, bagels

Refreeze

Refreeze

Frozen meal, entree, specialty items (pizza, sausage and biscuit, meat pie, convenience foods)

Refreeze

Discard

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