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USDA Food Safety Guidance For Power Outages


With the power outages caused by the devastating fires in Southern California, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service urges consumers to follow USDA’s recommendations for keeping food safe after power outages.


* Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.
* The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full and the door remains closed.)
* Food can be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40° F or below.
* Never taste a food to determine its safety!
* Obtain dry or block ice to keep your refrigerator and freezer as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic-foot full freezer for 2 days.
* If the power has been out for several days, then check the temperature of the freezer with an appliance thermometer or food thermometer. If food still contains ice crystals or is at 40° F or below, the food is safe.
* If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, then check each package of food to determine its safety. If the food still contains ice crystals, the food is safe.
* Discard refrigerated perishable foods such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items after 4 hours without power.
* When in Doubt, Throw it Out!

Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the Food Safety and Inspection Service virtual representative available 24 hours a day at The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.

More information about USDA response efforts to the Southern California wildfires is available at


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