When In Doubt, Throw It Out…It May Be Time To Empty The Fridge

PORTLAND, Ore. – If you’ve been without power the last few days, it’s probably time to empty the refrigerator.

The Oregon Health Authority’s Jonathan Modie says refrigerated food only lasts about 4 hours after power is lost. And that’s only if the refrigerator remains closed, “When in doubt, throw it out.”

He says frozen foods can last up to 2 days, again, only if the door remains closed. And he says cut that time in half if the freezer is only half full.

But, there may be some relief. He says some homeowners insurances cover food lost due to outages, “That is certainly something to look in to.”

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Here’s more from the Oregon Office of Emergency Management:

Salem, Oregon — If you’ve had power outages due to the recent ice storms, it’s a good time to think about food safety. Oregon Emergency Management reminds residents that when your food has not been stored at the proper temperature, it can make you sick. Here are a few tips to help you know how to protect your health and your food.

  • A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. If you have dry or block ice it may help keep your refrigerator as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for long time.
  • Digital, dial or instant-read food thermometers and appliance thermometers will help you know if the food is at safe temperatures. Always keep appliance thermometers in the refrigerator and freezer.
  • Never taste food to determine its safety! You can’t rely on appearance or odor to determine whether food is safe.
  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened.
  • Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of your food right before you cook or eat it. Throw away any food that has a temperature of more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit (40°F).
  • Always keep meat, poultry, fish and eggs refrigerated at or below 40°F and frozen food at or below 0°F. This may be difficult when the power is out.
  • Always discard any items in the refrigerator that have come into contact with raw meat juices.

To find more food safety tips, visit https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/HealthyEnvironments/FoodSafety/Pages/tips.aspx or contact your local public health office.

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