Last Updated on February 14, 2023 by Jahangir
Refrigeration is key to food safety and safety of the food. Without refrigeration, food will spoil and become unsafe to eat and drink. When the power goes out, however, refrigerators can’t function as expected. This leaves us with the dilemma of how to keep our food safe for longer when the power outage strikes.
While power outage may not seem like a food safety hazard, it can compromise food safety and extend the shelf life of perishable food items. If you are looking for ways to preserve food safety in an outage, read this blog on how long refrigerated foods can last without power and tips for keeping perishable food items cooler for longer times.
How Long Can You Keep Food Safe Without Power?
– Food in a refrigerator can be kept cold for 4 hours if the door remains closed.
– In a full freezer, food can remain safe for up to 48 hours without power.
– In a half-full freezer, food can remain safe for up to 24 hours without power.
– If you’re power outage lasts for more than two days, it’s a good idea to keep perishable food in the fridge and freezer as much as possible.
– If the power goes out for longer than two days, you should also keep the refrigerator doors closed and use freezer packs to preserve the food’s temperature.
– You can also use a surge protector or power strip to prevent permanent damage to your fridge when the power is out.
What Foods to Eat When the Power Goes Out
– Non-perishable foods like nuts, crackers, breakfast cereal, and snack bars can be good sources of energy and don’t require preparation or refrigeration.
– Canned fruits and vegetables with low sodium content are also good options.
– Grains, beans, and overnight oats can be mixed with water in advance to avoid the need for cooking.
– If power is restored and the food was sitting above 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the refrigerator for more than two hours, it should be thrown out.
– Food will keep for 24 to 48 hours in the freezer and 12 to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
– When power goes out, it’s important to have nonperishable food on hand to sustain yourself and your family through the crisis.
Consider nonperishable food with high protein, calcium, and Vitamin C content, such as canned salmon and string beans. Also consider keeping a few milk offers in the fridge so you don’t have to search for power as often.
Tips to Keep Refrigerated Foods Cooler for Longer
If the power outage lasts longer than four hours, it is essential to keep perishable food items safe and ice-cold. In that case, the freezer and refrigerator should be kept at the temperature of the freezer or refrigerator for the safety of the food.
Besides, it is vital to maintain the freezer and refrigerator doors closed as much as possible to prevent power-loss cold air from getting in. Also, power outage can cause power-loss cold damage in food that may result in spoilage. Hence, keeping a cooler handy can help you avoid this problem.
You should also ensure that freezer and refrigerator doors are closed properly and not left open too long.
How long can you keep your food safe in the refrigerator?
– Keep refrigerator door closed for as long as possible to keep food cold. This will help to keep the food’s temperature at optimal levels and extend the safe storage time.
– A closed refrigerator can keep food cold for up to 4 hours. If the refrigerator is full, the temperature will stay the same for 24 hours. However, a half-full freezer can last for 48 hours if power is maintained and the doors are shut tightly.
– Adding ice packs or frozen food to the freezer should also help to keep the temperature consistent and prolong the safe storage time. Ice packs should be left in place for at least 24 hours before being removed and food should be left in the freezer for no more than two days per batch of food.
– When power is restored, the refrigerator should be set at a temperature below 40° F and the freezer at 0° F or below. Both must be restored to these temperatures immediately after power outage so that food doesn’t spoil or become unsafe due to a power outage or winter weather conditions.
How to extend the life of refrigerated foods?
– When power outages occur, the temperature inside your freezer can quickly drop below safety levels. If this happens, the ice could start to thaw and the food could become unsafe. To help prevent this, you can purchase dry or block ice for your refrigerator or freezer to maintain the temperature of perishable items during power outages.
– Moving any refrigerated foods to ice helps to maintain the safe temperature of the food and prevents freezer burn. The food will stay frozen longer and stay fresher for longer.
– If power outages last for more than four hours, it’s important to cook food that you freeze below 40 degrees to prevent freezer burn. This will also make the food safer to eat and prolong its shelf life.
– In outdoor temperatures cold enough for refrigerated food, the safety guideline for frozen food is still applicable. This is because frozen food remains safe at lower temperatures than perishable food does when power outage occurs.
What is refrigerated food?
– Refrigerated food is food that is stored at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. To be considered refrigerated, the food must also be packaged in a freezer and kept frozen until the consumer takes it out of the freezer and starts to consume it.
– When you buy a refrigerated product, the food must be properly packaged and labeled as to the safe storage temperature of the food.
– Common foods that can be refrigerated include meat, poultry, seafood, prepared foods, vegetables, creamed foods, pudding, low-acid foods, ice cream, bread, cake, cookies, plain doughnuts, nuts, flour, cereal, margarine and butter.
– After the food has thawed out and been eaten or used up, it should not be refrozen once it has thawed out. Instead the food should be discarded and replaced with fresh food.
– Refrigeration is used to prevent the growth of certain types of bacteria in food and to keep perishable foods from spoiling quickly. However, the FDA does not mandate any specific time limit for the safe storage of perishable food following thawing.
What are the benefits of refrigerated food?
– Refrigerated food is a great way to help keep food safe when power is unavailable for a period of time. Whenever you’re power outage, food in the freezer and fridge will stay safe for up to four hours during a power outage, as the USDA recommends.
– The safety of refrigerated food depends on a few factors, such as the food’s safety rating and storage temperature.
– Food safety during power outages is especially important for perishable food items and those that require cooking, like poultry and seafood.
– The USDA also suggests keeping perishable food items at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below for safety.
– By transferring some of your refrigerated food to the freezer, you can ensure the safety of the food for an extended period of time.
What are the drawbacks of refrigerated food?
– Refrigerated food should be stored at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If the temperature rises above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, bacteria may begin to grow and cause foodborne illness.
– Refrigerted food should be discarded after 4 hours without power. Certain food items such as perishable food and ice cream should not be refrozen after thawing. These items can become unsafe if they are allowed to warm back to room temperature.
– If power is lost during the freezer’s normal operating time, the food inside the freezer should be safely preserved for up to four hours without power. This will prevent food from becoming freezer burn and losing its texture and flavor.
– To prevent power loss in the freezer, you can use a timer or turn off the power when it is not needed for long periods of time. You can also clean the freezer regularly to remove any buildup of ice and debris that may interfere with the appliance’s ability to maintain the proper temperature.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some foods that should be kept refrigerated?
Some food items that should be kept refrigerated include dairy products, perishable food, and bread, cake, cookies and plain doughnuts. Margarine and butter can also be stored in the refrigerator. Fruits should be eaten as soon as possible since they will lose their flavor and nutritions the longer they are kept in the fridge.
How long can refrigerated food be kept without power?
Refrigerator doors must be kept closed to keep food cold for up to four hours. A full freezer can keep its temperature for up to 48 hours, while a half-full freezer can keep its temperature for up to 24 hours. Adding a block of dry ice can keep a fully stocked refrigerator cold for two days. Storing perishable foods in a cooler with ice or a cold source like frozen gel packs will keep food safe for up to four hours.
What are the possible consequences of improperly storing food?
There are many possible consequences of improperly storing food. Some of the most serious include food-borne illness, food spoilage, food waste, and pests and rodents.
Food-borne illness is caused by food that’s been contaminated with bacteria. This can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and food poisoning.
Food spoilage occurs when food starts to rot and develop bad smells or tastes. This may cause food items to go bad faster than expected and may make them unsafe to eat.
Food waste is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. perishable food that’s not eaten within two hours of a power outage can prevent it from being stored in the fridge and wasted.
Pests and rodents can be attracted to perishable food that’s not properly stored and this can lead to safety and health issues for you and your family.
A power outage can not only pose safety issues for the people, but it can also hamper the food security of your family. To ensure the safety of food, keep your refrigerator and freezer full and use food storage containers that minimize food exposure to air and light. When power is restored and you are able to re-stock your refrigerator, make sure to rotate out perishable items like milk and eggs and replace them with longer-lasting foods like fruits and vegetables. If power outage is prolonged, follow the tips mentioned above to ensure the safety of your food storage. You can also rely on a backup generator to power essential household devices such as refrigerators and freezers during power outage in the home.
Mr. Jahangir Alam is an Electrical & Electronics Engineer with a wide range of experience in several fields of Engineering. He finds engineering articles to be very interesting, and that is why he likes to write them. To know more about him, please click here.