USDA puts out tips on food safety during an outage

Farm Forum

WASHINGTON (AP) – Severe storms often knock out electricity and cause food to spoil, so the U.S. Agriculture Department has released tips on cutting food spoilage and guarding against foodborne illness when it happens.

The agency’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said it put out the food safety recommendations for people in the Midwest and Great Plains who get hit with heavy rain, high winds, hail and tornadoes.

Among the suggestions:

• Keep the refrigerator at 40 degrees or lower and the freezer at zero or colder.

• Freeze water in one-quart bags or small containers and put them around food if the power goes out.

• Put refrigerated food in coolers if the electricity will be off for more than four hours.

• Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you might not need immediately.

• Keep a few days’ worth of ready-to-eat foods that don’t require cooking or cooling.

• Place meat and poultry to one side of the freezer or on a tray to prevent cross-contamination of thawing juices.

• Discard any perishable food such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or leftovers that has been above 40 degrees for two hours or more.

• Never taste a food to decide if it’s safe.

• When in doubt, throw it out.

Other tips are available on the YouTube video called “Food Safety During Power Outages.”