Natural disasters, such as tornadoes and blizzards, can strike at any time and without warning. These disasters can lead to power loss, and bring about food safety problems. Specifically: the lack of electricity can compromise the sanitation and temperatures of food storage areas, which are vital to preventing bacteria growth.
Knowing what to do in this situation can reduce the possibility of food spoilage and contamination from occurring. Managing food safety risks, in fact, is a few of the things that business establishments should learn to obtain a food handling certificate. This plan can help people keep food safe in case of power outages.
Before the Power Dies
If you were given fair warning of a power outage, freeze refrigerated items such as fresh meat, milk and leftovers that aren’t needed right away. This keeps them at a safe temperature for a longer period.
Additionally, keep an appliance thermometer in both the freezer and the refrigerator to effectively monitor storage temperatures. The refrigerator temperature should ideally stay below 40°F while the freezer temperature should remain below 0°F. Have frozen gel packs ready to keep refrigerated food frozen.
While the Power’s Out
Once the power’s out, stay calm. Make sure that the freezer and refrigerator doors stay closed as much as possible. A full freezer will retain its temperature for about 48 hours after power loss. If the outage goes beyond that period, purchase dry or block ice to keep the fridge as cold as possible. Doing so can prevent (or slow down) food spoilage.
Once the Power Goes Back On
When the power goes back, evaluate each food separately. Keep the saying ‘when in doubt, throw it out’ in mind; throw out any food with an unusual texture, odour or colour. In addition, don’t taste any item to assess its safety. Instead, use your eyes, hands and nose to check the food.
People can’t prevent power outages, but they can at least prepare for it. Ample preparation is the key to keeping food safe regardless of the situation.