Many residents in the listening area remain without power after yesterday’s severe storms, and the Morgan County Health Department is reminding the public about the dangers that could be lurking in their refrigerators.
Linda Day with the Morgan County Health Department’s Food Sanitation Department says if you have been without power since the storm passed through just before noon yesterday there’s a chance your frozen food is still safe, but anything in the refrigerator needs to go.
“For the refrigerator, if your power has been out for four hours or more, we tell you to get rid of all perishable food. So meat, milk, eggs, anything that you’ve prepared- things like that you would need to go ahead and throw out.
In a freezer, if it’s totally packed, and I mean as full as you can have it, it might hold for 48 hours. If it’s only half full, you’re looking at about 24 hours. You want to keep the lid closed, stay out of it because the more you open it the warmer it’s going to become.”
The Morgan County Health Department follows the food safety guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control.
Day says if the power has been out for four hours and a cooler and ice are available, you can put refrigerated perishable foods in the cooler with ice or frozen cold packs to keep the food at 40 degrees fahrenheit or less.
Day says it might be a pain in the pocketbook to throw out a refrigerator full of food, but it is better than you or a member of your household getting sick. “Again just be really careful with food safety. Our favorite saying is when it doubt, throw it out.
You don’t want to eat anything coming out of that refrigerator when you’re been without power for 24 hours and try to eat any of that food. You just run a really high risk of becoming ill from that. So we just want you to be safe.”
Day says if you have an appliance thermometer in your freezer, check to see if it is still at 40 °F or below. You can safely refreeze or cook thawed frozen food that still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °F or below.
More information can be found on the Morgan County Health Department’s website and Facebook page, or from the Centers for Disease Control at cdc.gov/foodsafety