The Fairfax County, City of Alexandria and Virginia Health departments offer these tips for salvaging food after a power outage.
- Perishable, refrigerated foods such as meats, fish, poultry, and all dairy products that have been without refrigeration and have been above 41ºF for more than two hours should be discarded.
- Before eating perishable refrigerated foods (milk, cheeses, eggs, meats, fish, or poultry) be sure tocheck their temperature. Foods that are 40º F or below can be eaten and are considered safe. Foods that are above 40º F for more than 2 hours must be discarded. Do Not Eat. Don't trust your sense of smell. Food may be unsafe even if it doesn't smell bad.
- Any perishable food from the freezer that has thawed for more than two hours and is above 41ºF should be discarded.
- Any food item discarded should be disposed of in well-tied double‐bagged plastic garbage bags.
- After the power returns, it is OK to refreeze frozen foods that still contain ice crystals and are below 41ºF. This includes meats, fish, vegetables and cheeses.
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. The refrigerator will keep foods cold for 2-4 hours if it is unopened. Full freezers will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours if the door remains closed. These times may vary depending on age of the unit, condition of the seals, temperature setting and amount of food.
- Make sure that no more than four hours pass between the time food is taken from the oven or refrigerator and the time cooked foods are eaten.
- Follow the golden rule of food safety, "When in Doubt, Throw it Out", for any foods which you are not sure have stayed at a safe temperature or which do not look or smell as they should.