Monday, August 15, 2011

When the power goes out - what food to throw out

Homefoodsafety.org,  is running a blogger awareness campaign, which strikes me as a pretty smart way to get the word out about the site, which is a collaboration between American Dietetic Association and ConAgra Foods.    I hadn't paid much attention to the contest or the site, but today I noticed the front page article had a story on what food to throw out when the power goes out.
Personally, I'm very guilty when it comes to ignoring the issue of what to do with refrigerator food after a power outage.  Or, sometimes I'll take the opposite approach which means that I'll throw out everything that I think could spoil.  So I thought these guidelines were pretty smart, and since there is an awareness campaign ongoing, why not do my part?
So here are some tips from the site, and hopefully they'll be useful to you also:

Be Prepared
  • Make sure - before an outage - that the refrigerator is set below 40 degrees.
  • Stock up on non-perishable foods that don't require refrigeration, and choose single-serve sizes if available to avoid the need for refrigeration of unused portions. Consider these easy, healthy, shelf-stable foods: 
    • Breads/Grains: single-serving boxes of cereal, trail mix, energy bars, granola bars, cereal bars, bagels, muffins, crackers, popcorn and chips. 
    • Fruits and Vegetables: carrot and celery sticks and other cut-up raw vegetables, grapes, single-serve applesauce, whole fruit (apples, peaches, bananas), dried fruit mix and juice boxes. 
    • Dairy Alternatives: single-serve milk or soy beverage boxes and non-refrigerated pudding cups. 
    • Meat and Other Protein Sources: cans of tuna, peanut butter (for sandwiches or with celery and apples), nuts and single-serve packages of peanut butter and crackers. 
When the Power Goes Out:
  • During a power outage, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed and open them only when necessary.
  • If power is restored within four hours, items in the refrigerator should be safe to eat. A full freezer will stay at freezing temperatures for two days if the door remains closed. A half-full freezer will stay at freezing temperatures for one day if the door remains closed. 
Once the Power is Restored:
  • When power is restored, check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer. If it has risen to 45 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, discard any potentially spoiled foods. Such foods include meat, poultry, fish, dairy and egg products, soft cheese, cooked beans, cooked rice, cooked potatoes, cooked pasta, potato salad, custard and pudding. 
  • Allow time for the refrigerator to reach below 40 degrees Fahrenheit before restocking. 
  • And of course, when in doubt, throw it out. 
For additional food safety tips,  visit the Home Food Safety website. 


Disclaimer/Disclosure: For helping spread the word about the importance of home food safety, I was entered into a drawing for a $15 Starbucks gift card and an iPad through Summertime Food Smarts, a contest run by the American Dietetic Association and ConAgra Foods' Home Food Safety program. Home FoodSafety is dedicated to raising consumer awareness about the seriousness of foodborne illness and providing solutions for easily and safely handling foods. Learn more at www.homefoodsafety.org.

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