What to do with the food in your fridge if the power goes out?

Hello all! This post comes after a pretty serious storm worked its way up the East Coast of the US last weekend. Cities like Baltimore, Philadelphia, and NYC got slammed with snow, ice, etc. a couple weeks ago and left many without power. Because I’m sure this is not the last winter storm (or just severe inclement weather in general) I thought it would be pertinent to discuss what you should do with the food in your fridge/freezer when the power goes out.

Being ServSafe certified is a requirement for my dietetics program, so I know a little bit about food safety and I wanted to share with you some of my knowledge for how to handle this situation!


Step 1: If you know bad weather is coming, and there’s a chance you might lose power, start packing your fridge with extra ice to keep the temp low while the power’s out.

Step 2: Note the time the power went out. Most fridges can keep food cold for awhile.

Step 3: Minimize the amount of time you have to open your fridge/freezer doors to grab things. Most fridges will maintain safe temps for 2 hours, full freezers for 48 hours, and half-full freezers for 24 hours (group foods close together to keep them colder).

  • Also, as the fridge/freezer starts to lose its coldness things like meats may begin to thaw out – to prevent any sort of drippings from contaminating other foods it’s best to group these foods together in a tray.

Step 4: Check the temperature and how long the power has been out. Perishable items should be tossed if they’ve been above 40* for 2+ hours. If food is warm, a funny color, a weird texture, or you suspect it might not be safe anymore, toss it. Don’t taste it to test!


Step 5: Your freezer. If items have ice crystals on them or have been at 40* or below it can still be re-frozen. Keep in mind your porch (if you’ve got one) can be used as an extra freezer during a blizzard if the temp is cold enough!

**Items of particular concern include: meats, eggs, sliced melons, sliced tomatoes, sprouts, soft cheese, and milk. Pay special attention to the length of time these foods have been out of refrigeration.**

Power OUtage 2

I hope this guide helps! Regardless of Snowpacalypse or a severe thunderstorm in the summer, keeping your food at the proper temps is paramount to keeping it safe and preventing food borne illness.

Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

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