As families throughout the U.S. face power outages in the wake of Hurricane Ida, many might wonder what they should do with the food that’s in their fridge and freezer.
All three of these government agencies partnered with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to come up with a power outage food guide on FoodSafety.gov.
According to the guide, refrigerators can mainly keep food safe for up to four hours. Beyond that time, experts generally advise people to get rid of perishable food.
Top items FoodSafety.gov suggests people discard during long power outages are meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, most dairy items (except select hard, processed or grated cheeses), opened cans or jars, sliced up fruits and vegetables and leftovers.
Many of these items should be discarded if it is kept at a temperature that exceeds 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours, according to FoodSafety.gov.
If coolers, ice and/or frozen gel packs are available, the CDC states families can extend the life of their food during emergencies and natural disasters.
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In cases where coolers aren’t available but ice is available, on-air lifestyle and food contributor Roberta Pipito – the founder of Homemade Delish – told FOX News families can make their own emergency cooler with home appliances or kitchen accessories.
“You can fill your washing machine with ice to create a cooler, and the water will drain out as it melts,” Pipito said.
As an alternative, families can fill a large, Tupperware-like container with water, ice and salt to try and keep food cool.
“Salt makes ice water colder by lowering the temperature at which water freezes. This is another great tip,” Pipito shared.
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If these options don’t work for your household, FoodSafety.gov says food might be able to stay cold if a fridge or freezer is left completely closed for 24 or 48 hours.
The length of time ultimately depends on how full the fridge or freezer is.
Certain foods can also be kept or refrozen even if it has exceeded the 40-degree mark for more than two hours, including butter or margarine, fresh uncut fruits and vegetables, unopened cans, jars, juices, dried produce, peanut butter, jelly and other spreads, bread, pie, hard cheese and breakfast items.
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Although there are certain foods that can reportedly survive a power outage, FoodSafety.gov urges all people to avoid tasting food to see if it is good or not. Doing so can up a person’s chance of contracting a foodborne illness.