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After a Power Outage: If in Doubt, Throw it Out

November 16, 2010

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department recommends the following for preventing foodborne illnesses. Take care of your health by discarding foods that could spoil after a power outage:

  • Discard any perishable foods that have been without refrigeration and above 45F for more than two hours.
  • Discard any perishable food that is above 45F for more than two hours.
  • Food items that can be kept for a limited time without refrigeration include:
    • Hard processed cheese such as cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan and Romano;
    • Butter, margarine;
    • Opened fruit juices, canned fruits, vinegar-based dressings, peanut butter, jellies, mustards;
    • Breads, rolls, cakes, muffins, waffles, pancakes, bagels, fruit pies, fruit, herbs, spices and raw vegetables.
  • After power is returned, it is acceptable to re-freeze frozen foods that still contain ice crystals and are 45F or lower. This may result in a reduction in the quality of the product.
  • As a general rule, a well-functioning freezer that is unopened and at least half full will maintain foods at 45F or lower for about 24 hours.
  • Do not taste food to determine if it can be kept or should be thrown out.
  • Evaluate each food item separately.
  • If in doubt, throw it out.

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