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Tips on Keeping Food Safe When the Power Goes Out
Date:10/30/2012

TUESDAY, Oct. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Power outages and flooding caused by "superstorm" Sandy could lead to food safety problems and people need to take steps to ensure that their food supply is accessible and safe, federal government officials advise.

"Keeping food at safe storage temperatures in a power outage and away from flood waters is crucial to avoiding foodborne illness in weather emergencies," U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for food safety Elisabeth Hagen said in a USDA news release.

"We encourage residents in the projected path of the storm to include an appliance thermometer, coolers, and dry ice on their Hurricane Sandy preparation checklists. As a last resort for food safety, when in doubt, throw it out," she said.

The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Services outlines the food safety steps you should take to prepare for severe weather:

  • An appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer can help to determine if food is safe during power outages. The refrigerator temperature should be 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower and the freezer should be 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
  • Store food on high shelves so it will not get touched by contaminated water in case of flooding.
  • Pack food tightly together in the freezer. This helps the food stay cold longer.
  • Freezing leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately can help keep them at a safe temperature longer.
  • Keep coolers on hand to store refrigerated food in case the power goes out for more than 4 hours.
  • Buy or make ice and store in the freezer for use in the refrigerator or in a cooler. Freeze gel packs ahead of time for use in coolers. Plan ahead and know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased.

If the power goes out, you should keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep food cold fo
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