South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

Health Dept. has tips for when the power goes off

 

August 2, 2005



Because summer storms sometimes cause power outages, the Allegheny County Health Department is offering advice on how to preserve perishable foods without refrigeration and how to tell when food is spoiled and should be discarded.

Health officials offer the following recommendations:

• Use appliance thermometers in refrigerators and freezers. Safe temperatures are a maximum of 40° F for refrigerators and 0° F for freezers. Most foodborne illnesses are caused by bacteria that multiply rapidly above 40° F.

• Keep freezer doors shut. A full freezer should keep food safe about two days; a half-full freezer, about one day. Add bags of ice or dry ice to the freezer, if the power will be out for an extended time. You can safely refreeze thawed foods that still contain ice crystals or feel cold to the touch.

• Refrigerated items should be safe as long as the power is out no more than four to six hours. Discard any perishable food that has been above 40° F for two hours or more, and any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture. Keep the refrigerator door closed; every time you open it, cold air escapes and raises the temperature inside.

• If the power will be out more than six hours, transfer perishable foods to an insulated cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs. Keep a thermometer in the cooler and make sure the temperature does not go above 40° F.

• Never taste food to determine its safety. Some foods may look and smell fine, but if they've been at room temperature longer than two hours, bacteria that cause food borne illness can begin to multiply very rapidly. Some types of bacteria will produce toxins which are not destroyed by cooking and can cause illness.

Call the Allegheny County Health Department at 412-687-ACHD or visit http://www.achd.net for advice about the handling of specific foods in a power outage and when they should be saved or thrown out.

 

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