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Food Safety During Power Outage

Refrigerated Food and Power Outages: When to Save It and When to Throw It Out

As the USDA notes in Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency, your refrigerator will keep food safe for up to 4 hours during a power outage. Keep the door closed as much as possible. Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers after 4 hours without power.

After a power outage never taste food to determine its safety. You will have to evaluate each item separately—use this chart as a guide. When in Doubt, Throw it Out!

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Type of Food Held above 40 °F for more than 2 hours
Meat, poultry, seafood
Raw or leftover cooked meat, poultry, fish, or seafood;
soy meat substitutes
Discard
Thawing meat or poultry Discard
Salads: Meat, tuna, shrimp, chicken, or egg salad Discard
Gravy, stuffing, broth Discard
Lunchmeats, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, dried beef Discard
Pizza with any topping Discard
Canned hams labeled "Keep Refrigerated" Discard
Canned meats and fish, opened Discard
Casseroles, soups, stews Discard
Cheese
Soft cheeses: blue/bleu, Roquefort, Brie, Camembert, cottage, cream, Edam, Monterey Jack, ricotta, mozzarella, Muenster, Neufchatel, queso blanco, queso fresco Discard
Hard cheeses: Cheddar, Colby, Swiss, Parmesan, provolone, Romano Keep
Processed cheeses Keep
Shredded cheeses Discard
Low-fat cheeses Discard
Grated Parmesan, Romano, or combination (in can or jar) Keep
Dairy
Milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, evaporated milk, yogurt, eggnog, soy milk Discard
Butter, margarine Keep
Baby formula, opened Discard
Eggs
Fresh eggs, hard-cooked in shell, egg dishes, egg products Discard
Custards and puddings, quiche Discard
Fruits
Fresh fruits, cut Discard
Fresh fruits, uncut Keep
Fruit juices, opened Keep
Canned fruits, opened Keep
Dried fruits, raisins, candied fruits, dates Keep
Sliced or shredded coconut Discard
Sauces, Spreads, Jams
Opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce, horseradish Discard
(if above 50 °F for more than 8 hrs)
Peanut butter Keep
Jelly, relish, taco sauce, mustard, catsup, olives, pickles Keep
Worcestershire, soy, barbecue, hoisin sauces Keep
Fish sauces, oyster sauce Discard
Opened vinegar-based dressings Keep
Opened creamy-based dressings Discard
Spaghetti sauce, opened Discard
Bread, cakes, cookies, pasta, grains
Bread, rolls, cakes, muffins, quick breads, tortillas Keep
Refrigerator biscuits, rolls, cookie dough Discard
Cooked pasta, rice, potatoes Discard
Pasta salads with mayonnaise or vinaigrette Discard
Fresh pasta Discard
Cheesecake Discard
Breakfast foods: waffles, pancakes, bagels Keep
Pies and pastry
Cream filled pastries Discard
Pies: custard, cheese-filled, or chiffon; quiche Discard
Fruit pies Keep
Vegetables
Fresh vegetables, cut Discard
Fresh vegetables, uncut Keep
Fresh mushrooms, herbs, spices Keep
Greens, pre-cut, pre-washed, packaged Discard
Vegetables, cooked Discard
Tofu, cooked Discard
Vegetable juice, opened Discard
Baked potatoes Discard
Commercial garlic in oil Discard
Potato salad Discard
Casseroles, soups, stews Discard

Frozen Food and Power Outages: When to Save It and When to Throw It Out

A full freezer will hold a safe temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full and the door remains closed). Food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40°F or below, however, its quality may suffer. Never taste food to determine its safety. Use this chart as a general guide.

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Type of food Contains ice crystals and feels cold as if refrigerated     Thawed and held above 40°F for more than 2 hours
Meat, poultry, seafood
Meat, poultry, seafood – all types of cuts Refreeze
 
Discard
stews, soups Refreeze
 
Discard
Dairy
Milk Refreeze
(some loss of texture)
Discard
Eggs (out of shell) and egg products Refreeze Discard
Ice cream, frozen yogurt Discard Discard
Cheese (soft and semi-soft) Refreeze (some loss of texture) Discard
Hard cheeses Refreeze Refreeze
Shredded cheeses Refreeze Discard
Cheesecake Refreeze Discard
Fruits
Juices Refreeze Refreeze. (discard if mold, yeasty smell, or sliminess develops)
Home or commercially packaged Refreeze
(will change texture and flavor)
Refreeze (discard if mold, yeasty smell, or sliminess develops)
Vegetables
Juices Refreeze Discard after held above 40°F for 6 hours
Home or commercially packaged or blanched Refreeze (may suffer texture and flavor loss) Discard after held above 40°F for 6 hours
Breads and pastries
Breads, rolls, muffins, cakes (without custard fillings) 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)
Other Foods
Casseroles: pasta, rice-based Refreeze Discard
Flour, cornmeal, nuts Refreeze Refreeze
Breakfast items: waffles, pancakes, bagels Refreeze Refreeze
Frozen meal, entree, specialty item (pizza, sausage and biscuit, meat pie, convenience foods) Refreeze Discard
Date Last Reviewed