How Long Will Food Last in a Power Outage?

Check out the USDA guidelines for the food safety in an unpowered refrigerator.

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service fact sheet (attached) explains how to keep food safe during an emergency, including losing power.

  1. "Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature." The refrigerator will only keep food safely cold for about four hours if unopened during a power outage. A full freezer will hold the temperature for about 48 hours if full (24 hours if half-full).
  2. "Never to taste food to determine its safety," the government advises. "Evaluate each item separately."
  3. Generally, if the thermometer in the freezer reads 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, the food is safe and can be refrozen. Dry or block ice can help keep refrigerated or frozen food cold if the power will be out for an extended period of time.

For more details and for a list of "when to save and when to throw it out" for refrigerated and frozen food items, click here. Or check out these tips from the Mother Nature Network.


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