Food Safety During a Power Outage

ShareThis

Is food in the refrigerator safe during and after a power outage?

It should be safe as long as power is out for no more than four hours. Keep the door closed as much as possible. If you know a power outage is likely, freeze water in plastic bags (or purchase frozen cold packs) and pack the refrigerator with them as soon as the power goes out. A few on each shelf can help keep the food below 40˚F longer. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers) that has been above 40˚F for over two hours.

Some homeowner’s insurance policies or power companies cover the cost of food lost during a power outage. Check with your insurance company or power supplier to see if you can be reimbursed so you can restock when the power comes back on.

Download a PDF version of this guide here. 


Discard Times for Refrigerated Foods After Power Outage

Meat, Poultry, Seafood

Held above
40°F for
over 2
Hours

Raw or leftover cooked meat, poultry, fish, seafood; soy meat
substitutes
Discard
Meat or poultry in the process of thawing Discard
Salads: meat, tuna, shrimp, chicken, egg Discard
Gravy, stuffing, broth Discard
Lunch meats, hot dogs, bacon, sausages, dried beef Discard
Pizza—with any topping Discard
Canned hams labeled “Keep Refrigerated” Discard
Canned meats and fish, opened Discard
Casseroles, soups, stews Discard

Cheese

Held above 40°F for over 2 Hours

Soft cheeses: blue-veined, Roquefort, Brie, Camembert, cottage, cream,Edam, Monterey Jack, ricotta, mozzarella, Muenster, Neufchâtel, quesoblanco, queso fresco Discard
Hard cheeses: cheddar, Colby, Swiss, Parmesan, provolone, Romano Safe
Processed cheeses Safe
Shredded cheeses Discard
Low-fat cheeses Discard
Grated Parmesan, Romano, or combination (in can or jar) Safe

Dairy

Held above 40°F for over 2 Hours

Milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, evaporated milk, yogurt, eggnog, soy milk Discard
Butter, margarine Safe
Baby formula, opened Discard

Eggs

Held above 40°F for over 2 Hours

Fresh eggs, hard-cooked in shell, egg dishes, egg products Discard
Custards, puddings, quiche Discard

Fruits

Held above 40°F for over 2 Hours

Fresh fruits, cut Discard
Fruit juices, opened Safe
Canned fruits, opened Safe
Fresh fruits, coconut, raisins, dried fruits, candied fruits, dates Safe

Sauces, Spreads, Jams

Held above 40°F for over 2 Hours

Opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce, horseradish Discard if above 50°F for over 8 hours
Peanut butter Safe
Jelly, relish, taco sauce, mustard, ketchup, olives, pickles Safe
Worcestershire, soy, barbecue, hoisin sauces Safe
Fish sauces, oyster sauce Discard
Opened vinegar-based dressings Safe
Opened creamy-based dressings Discard
Spaghetti sauce, opened jar Discard

Breads, Cakes, Cookies, Pasta, Grains

Held above 40°F for over 2 Hours

Breads, rolls, cakes, muffins, quick breads, tortillas Safe
Refrigerator biscuits, rolls, cookie dough Discard
Cooked pasta, rice, potatoes Discard
Pasta salads with mayonnaise or vinaigrette Discard
Fresh pasta Discard
Cheesecake Discard
Breakfast foods—waffles, pancakes, bagels Safe

Pies, Pastries

Held above 40°F for over 2 Hours

Pastries, cream-filled Discard
Pies—custard- or cheese-filled, or chiffon; quiche Discard
Pies, fruit Safe

Vegetables

Held above 40°F for over 2 Hours

Fresh mushrooms, herbs, spices Safe
Greens, pre-cut, pre-washed, packaged Discard
Vegetables, raw Safe
Vegetables, cooked; tofu Discard
Vegetable juice, opened Discard
Baked potatoes Discard
Commercial garlic in oil Discard
Potato salad Discard
Casseroles, soups, stews Discard

Discard Times for Frozen Foods After Power Outage

https://flic.kr/p/c5bN2E

Thawed or partially thawed food in the freezer may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40˚F or below. Partial thawing and refreezing may affect the quality of some food, but the food will be safe to eat. If you keep an appliance thermometer in your freezer, it’s easy to tell whether food is safe. When the power comes back on, check the thermometer. If it reads 40˚F or below, the food is safe and can be refrozen. Otherwise discard it. 

Meats, Poultry, Seafood

Still Contains Ice Crystals and Feels as Cold as if Refrigerated

Held above 40°F for over 2 Hours

Beef, veal, lamb, pork, ground meats Refreeze Discard
Poultry, ground poultry Refreeze Discard
Variety meats (liver, kidney, heart,chitterlings) Refreeze Discard
Casseroles, stews, soups Refreeze Discard
Fish, shellfish, breaded seafood products Refreeze, though there will be some texture and flavor loss Discard

Dairy

Still Contains Ice Crystals and Feels as Cold as if Refrigerated

Held above 40°F for over 2 Hours

Milk Refreeze; may lose some texture Discard
Eggs (out of shell) and egg products Refreeze Discard
Ice cream, frozen yogurt Discard Discard
Cheese (soft and semi-soft) Refreeze; may lose some texture Discard
Hard cheeses Refreeze Refreeze
Shredded cheeses Refreeze Discard
Casseroles containing milk, cream, eggs, soft cheeses Refreeze Discard
Cheesecake Refreeze Discard

Fruits

Still Contains Ice Crystals and Feels as Cold as if Refrigerated

Held above 40°F for over 2 Hours

Juices Refreeze Refreeze; discard if mold, yeasty smell, or sliminess develops
Home or commercially packaged Refreeze; will change textureand flavor Refreeze; discard if mold, yeasty smell, or sliminess develops

Vegetables

Still Contains Ice Crystals and Feels as Cold as if Refrigerated

Held above 40°F for over 2 Hours

Juices Refreeze Discard after held above40°F for 6 hours
Home or commercially packaged or blanched Refreeze; may suffer texture and flavor loss Discard after held above 40°F for 6 hours

Breads, Pastries

Still Contains Ice Crystals and Feels as Cold as if Refrigerated

Held above 40°F for over 2 Hours

Breads, rolls, muffins, cakes (without custard fillings) Refreeze Refreeze
Cakes, pies, pastries with custard orcheese filling Refreeze Discard
Pie crusts, commercial and homemade bread dough Refreeze; some quality loss may occur Refreeze; quality loss is considerable

Other

Still Contains Ice Crystals and Feels as Cold as if Refrigerated

Held above 40°F for over 2 Hours

Casseroles, pasta- or rice-based Refreeze Discard
Flour, cornmeal, nuts Refreeze Refreeze
Breakfast items-–waffles, pancakes, bagels Refreeze Refreeze
Frozen meals, entrées, specialty items (pizzas, sausage and biscuit sandwiches,meat pies, convenience foods) Refreeze Discard