Food Safety Tips: Prevent Spoilage When the Power's Out

More and more homeowners are without power today as PECO continues to work around the clock to restore electricity to those hit hardest by Wednesday’s ice storm.

However, residents coming back to their homes have to go through the process of inspecting what was left in their fridge and freezer.

Many are coming home to spoiled food in their refrigerators. When the power comes back on it is important to check the temperature of the refrigerator and freezer and discard any perishable food like milk, eggs, and leftovers, that has been left above 40 degrees for more than two hours. For anything left in the freezer check each food item for ice crystals which can then be safely refrozen.

PECO is not required to offer reimbursements for spoiled food according to their media spokesperson, Cathy Engel-Menendez. Because of this, residents may be spending more money than they normally would to replace what’s in their fridge and freezer.

With another Nor’easter coming this way it’s important to know more about food safety in case the lights go out again.

The best thing to do is to keep the refrigerator doors closed as much as possible. If the door is kept closed, a refrigerator can keep food cold for about four hours according to the United States Department of Agriculture, USDA. Placing meat and poultry on a tray is also recommended to ensure their liquids do not contaminate any other food when they begin to thaw. Below are tips from the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition:


  • Keep the refrigerator closed as much as possible
  • A refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if the door is kept closed
  • A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full)
  • Place meat and poultry to one side or on a tray so if foods begin to thaw their juiced will not get on other foods
  • If the power is going to off for a long time, buy dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible


  • Check the temperature inside your refrigerator and freezer
  • Check each item separately and discard any perishable foods that has been above 40 degrees for two hours or more
  • Throw out food that has an ususual odor, color or texture
  • With frozen food, check for ice crystals
  • Never taste food to decide if it's safe
  • When in doubt throw it out
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