Date: May 22, 2019

Partly cloudy. 30 percent chance of showers early this evening. Fog patches developing late this evening. Wind southeast 30 km/h gusting to 50 becoming light this evening. Low 12.

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Keeping Food Safe During a Power Outage

This page was reviewed or revised on Thursday, June 9, 2016 10:15 AM

When the power suddenly goes off, we are often left in the dark about many things we take for granted, including food safety. Following these simple tips will ensure your family doesn't become ill from consuming unsafe food.

Food Storage

In the event of a power failure, food in the refrigerator and in the freezer may become unsafe to eat. Here are some tips to ensure your food is stored safely if the power fails.

Food in your refrigerator:

  • Keep the refrigerator door closed to maintain the temperature inside. If the door is kept closed, the refrigerator section should keep foods cool for 4-6 hours.
  • If possible, add ice to the refrigerator to keep temperatures cooler for a longer period.
  • If you are not sure whether an item is spoiled, play it safe and throw it out. Eating unsafe foods may cause food-borne illness.
  • Throw out perishable foods, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and leftovers, which have been at temperatures above 4°C for more than two hours.
  • Throw out food as soon as possible if it is off-colour or has a bad odour.

Food in your freezer:

  • Keep the freezer door closed to maintain the temperature inside. An upright or chest freezer that is completely full will keep food frozen for about two days. A half-full freezer will keep food frozen for one day. Avoid opening and closing the freezer to check the food inside.
  • If possible, add bags of ice to the freezer to help to keep the temperatures cooler for a longer period of time.
  • If the power is going to be off for an extended period of time, consider taking food to a freezer belonging to a friend or neighbour who still has power.
  • Partial thawing and refreezing may reduce the quality of some food, but the food will remain safe to eat.

Food Preparation:

  • Ensure hands are washed with warm water and soap before, during, and after any food handling.
  • Clean and sanitize countertops and cutting boards with a bleach solution. This can be done by adding 5ml (1 tsp.) of bleach in 750 ml (3 cups) of water.
  • Ensure food is cooked to a safe internal temperature, this is easily checked by using an accurate probe thermometer.

Safe internal cooking temperatures:

FOOD TEMPERATURE
Poultry (pieces or ground) 74°C / 165°F
Poultry (whole) 82°C / 180°F
Pork 71°C / 160°F
Ground meat and meat mixtures 71°C / 160°F
Fish 70°C / 158°F
Eggs 74°C / 165°F
Other (food mixtures) 74°C / 165°F

Additional Information

For more information on safe food handling, contact a Public Health Inspector at Lambton Public Health 519-383-8331 or 1-800-667-1839.

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