PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — You’ve gone to the store and stocked in what you need for the storm, and then the ice storm hits and the power goes out.
“If it’s only going to be a couple of hours, do nothing,” Cindy Javor, of Penn State’s Extension Outreach program, said.
The critical thing is to try not to open the refrigerator or your freezer.
But after four hours, the refrigerator temperature is probably going to rise above 40 degrees, which is when bacteria can grow.
So after four hours, to avoid a food-born illness, Javor says, “Throw away really perishable things like meats, cheeses — soft cheeses, not hard cheese necessarily — eggs, milk, anything dairy. Not butter, though, butter can stay out for several hours.”
With this weekend’s storm will come much colder temperatures, which Javor says could be an answer to saving some perishables by putting them outside.
“I could set those outside in a cooler, just make sure animals or anything are not getting in them,” Javor said.
As for your freezer, she says it helps if your freezer is pretty packed.
“The more full that freezer is, it can be out for a day or two days and those foods will not be compromised,” Javor said.
However, if things in the freezer start thawing and you see liquid in the containers or wrappings…
“If that happens, the best thing would be to try to cook it,” Javor said.
Otherwise throw it out.
Penn State has all the information about what to keep or throw out online at extension.psu.edu/food-safety-and-quality.
There is also a Meat and Poultry Food Safety Hotline at the Federal Department of Agriculture. The operators are currently furloughed by the U.S. Government shutdown, but there is some automated information available. That number is 1-800-535-4555.