How long does it take for food to spoil when the power goes out? In this article we will break down the amount of time different types of food can last without refrigeration, along with tips to keep your food from spoiling or remain cool throughout a power outage.
No matter what you do, keep the fridge door closed. According to the USDA guide Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency, a standard fridge keeps food safe for four hours during the power outage as long as the door as closed.
Problems begin after that. A standard fridge keeps food at 35 to 38°F; once food rises above 40 degrees, then spoilage begins. Perishable food, including meat, fish, eggs, poultry, and other leftovers, begin to go bad.
Other foods that run the risk of going bad for more than two hours of exposure to temperatures above 40 degrees include cheeses (soft, shredded, and low-fat varieties), dairy (milk, cream, and yogurt), cut fruits and cooked pasta. Click here for a comprehensive list from Foodsafety.gov.
How long does it take for food to spoil when the power goes out when you think it'll stay fresh? Here are foods that will keep for much longer.
You can keep certain cheese (hard, processed, and grated parmesan), dairy (butter and margarine), most fruits (uncut varieties and canned), most sauces and spreads (peanut butter, jelly, ketchup, pickles, taco sauce, vinegar-based dressings).
When it comes to frozen foods in power outages, a freezer can hold its temperature for up to 48 hours, or 24 hours if it is half full. Food can be refrozen if there are still ice crystals or is at a temperature lower than 40 degrees.
Here's the rule of thumb on keeping freezer foods. Check to see if the food contains ice crystals and feels as cold as if it were refrigerated. If it does, keep it. If the food had thawed and goes above 40 degrees for more than two hours, then throw it out. Here's the definitive guide on freezer food from Foodsafety.gov.
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