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After experiencing an outage, proper food safety measures should be taken. The following information is provided by the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). For additional food safety information, contact the USDA at 202-720-2791 or visit

General Food Safety Guidelines


Keep refrigerator doors closed. Refrigerated food should be safe for about four hours. But milk, dairy products, eggs, meats and all cooked foods spoil quickly. Discard these foods if the temperature in the refrigerator rises above 40 degrees for two hours or more. When in doubt, throw the food out.


Keep the freezer doors closed. Food in a full, free-standing freezer will stay at freezing temperatures for about 48 hours without power, a half-full freezer will stay frozen for about 24 hours. If a freezer is not full, move packages together to insulate them and keep them as cold as possible.

Frozen foods that have partially or completely thawed before power is restored may be refrozen safely if there are still ice crystals or the food's temperature is 40 degrees or below.

Don't taste food that has an odd color or smell. When in doubt, throw the food out. Also, if it isn't safe for you, it isn't safe for your pet.

Refrigerator Foods: When to Save and When to Throw Away

The following information is reprinted from the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture.

General Rule: As long as the power has been out less than 2 hours, all food will be safe.

Type of Food Held above 40 Degrees FAHRENHEIT for more than 2 hours
Meat, Poultry, & Seafood
Fresh or leftover meat poultry, fish or seafood Discard
Thawing meat or poultry Discard
Meat, tuna, shrimp, chicken or egg salad Discard
Gravy, stuffing Discard
Lunchmeats, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, dried beef Discard
Pizza - with any topping Discard
Canned hams labeled "Keep Refrigerated" Discard
Canned meats, opened Discard
Soft cheeses, blue/bleu, Roquefort, brie, Camembert, Colby, cottage, cream, Edam, Monterey Jack, ricotta, mozzarella, Munster, Neufchatel Discard
Hard cheeses, Cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan, Romano Safe
Processed cheeses Safe
Shredded cheeses Discard
Low-fat cheeses Discard
Grated Parmesan, Romano, or combined (in can or jar) Safe
Milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, evaporated milk, yogurt Discard
Butter, Margarine Safe
Baby formula, opened Safe
Fresh eggs, hard-cooked in shell, egg dishes, egg products Discard
Custards and puddings Discard
Casseroles, Soups, Stews Discard
Fresh fruits, cut Discard
Fruit juices, opened Safe
Canned fruits, opened Safe
Fresh fruits, coconut, raisins, dried fruits, candied fruits, dates Safe
Sauces, Spreads, Jams
Jelly, relish, taco, barbecue & soy sauce, mustard, catsup, olives Safe
White wine Worcestershire sauce Discard
Fish sauces (oyster) Discard
Hoisin sauce Discard
Opened vinegar-based dressing Safe
Opened creamy-based dressings Discard
Spaghetti sauce, opened jar Discard
Bread, Cakes, Cookies, Pasta
Bread, rolls, cakes, muffins, quick breads Safe
Refrigerator biscuits, rolls, cookies dough Discard
Cooked pasta, spaghetti Discard
Pasta salads with mayonnaise or vinaigrette Discard
Fresh Pasta Discard
Cheesecake Discard
Breakfast foods – waffles, pancakes, bagels Safe
Pies, Pastry
Pastries, cream filled Discard
Pies - custard, cheese-filled, chiffon Discard
Pies, fruit Safe
Fresh mushrooms, herbs, spices Safe
Greens, pre-cut, pre-washed, packages Discard
Vegetables, raw Safe
Vegetables, cooked Discard
Baked potatoes Discard
Commercial garlic in oil Discard
Potato Salad Discard

Frozen Foods: When to Save and When to Throw Away


Type of Food Still contains ice crystals and feels as cold as if refrigerated Thawed, Held above 40 degrees FAHRENHEIT for over 2 hours
Meat, Poultry, & Seafood
Beef, veal, lamb, pork and gourmet meats Refreeze Discard
Poultry and ground poultry Refreeze Discard
Variety meats (liver, kidney, heart, chitterlings) Refreeze Discard
Casseroles, stews, soups Refreeze Discard
Fish, shellfish, breaded seafood products Refreeze. However, there will be some texture and flavor loss. Discard
Milk Refreeze. May lose some texture Discard
Eggs (out of shell) and egg products Refreeze Discard
Ice cream, frozen yogurt Discard Discard
Cheese (soft and semi-soft) Refreeze, May lose some texture Discard
Hard cheeses Refreeze Refreeze
Shredded cheeses Refreeze Discard
Casseroles containing milk, cream, eggs, soft cheeses Refreeze Discard
Cheesecake Refreeze Discard
Juices Refreeze Refreeze. Discard if mold, yeasty smell or sliminess develops.
Home or commercially packaged Refreeze. Will change in texture and flavor. Refreeze. Discard if mold, yeasty smell or sliminess develops.
Juices Refreeze Discard after held above 40 degrees fahrenheit for 6 hours.
Home or commercially packages or blanched Refreeze. May suffer texture and flavor loss. Discard after held above 40 degrees fahrenheit for 6 hours.
Breads, Pastries
Breads, rolls, muffins, cakes (without custard filling) Refreeze Refreeze
Cakes, pies, pastries with custard or cheese filling Refreeze Discard
Pie crusts, commercial and homemade bread dough Refreeze. Some quality loss may occur. Refreeze. Quality loss is considerable
Casseroles - pasta, rice based Refreeze Discard
Flour, cornmeal, nuts Refreeze Refreeze
Breakfast Items - waffles, pancakes, bagels Refreeze Refreeze
Frozen meal, entre, specialty items (pizza, sausage and biscuit, meat pie, convenience foods) Refreeze Discard

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