May 29, 2020
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How to avoid spoiled food during a power outage

Dreamstime | TNS
Dreamstime | TNS
Maine health officials warn that foods exposed to warmer temperatures when refrigerators and freezers lose power can quickly become dangerous to eat.

Editor’s note: We are resharing this story on April 13, 2020, in light of the recent storms that have left many in the state without power during a statewide stay-at-home order.

As Mainers across the state await the restoration of electrical power following the severe winds of Monday morning, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reminds residents to observe basic safety precautions in handling foods.

Foods exposed to warmer temperatures when refrigerators and freezers lose power can quickly become dangerous sources of bacterial infection.

To avoid food borne illnesses, Maine CDC recommends that residents:

—Monitor the temperature of refrigerators and freezers and discard any perishable food or beverage that has been above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours or more. Throw out any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture.

— Leave the freezer door closed during a power outage to help keep frozen foods safe for about two days, or one day if the freezer is only half full. Adding ice or dry ice can help keep foods colder longer. Once power is restored, it is safe to refreeze thawed foods that still contain ice crystals or that feel cold and solid to the touch.

— Leave the refrigerator door shut as much as possible. Refrigerated items should be safe as long as they are kept cool and the power is out no more than about four to six hours. Do not taste a food to see if it has spoiled. Remember that some foods may look and smell fine, but if they’ve been at room temperature longer than two hours, bacteria can multiply rapidly. Cooking may not make a food that has developed toxic bacteria safe.

— Good handwashing and kitchen hygiene are essential to preventing food-borne illnesses. Wash hands frequently with warm water and soap or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner if water is in short supply. Keep countertops, knives and utensils clean, especially when handling raw meats.


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