WHAT THE FOOD POLICE SAY ABOUT FROZEN FOOD SAFETY
August 18, 2015 The United States Depart of Agriculture (USDA) is the food police and they have the rules and regulations
and consumer guidelines for safely using our food, including consumer guidelines for keeping our frozen foods after a power
The general rule is simply this according to the USDA: Thawed or partially
thawed food in the freezer may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40-degrees Fahrenheit or below.
Patial thawing and refreezing may affect the quality of some food, but the food will be safe to eat.
The USDA also suggests that you keep a thermometer in your freezer so that it's easy to tell whether your food is
safe for consumption or refreezing. "When the power comes back on," says the USDA, "check the thermometer.
If it reads 40-degrees Fahrenheit or below, the food is safe and can be refrozen."
good advice but what if you are not at home when the power goes out -- and more importantly when the power comes back on?
How will you know, for example, that the food temperature didn't rise to an unsafe level and then when the power came back
on it refroze? Certainly if the temperature reached an unsafe level the refrozen food could be dangerous.
Is there a simple way to determine if the power was out in your freezer for too long? Yes there is. I call it the
ice cube test. Simply have an ice cube on a dish in your freezer and after a blackout or power outage check the condition
of the ice cube. If it still looks like an ice cube it means the temperature in your freezer never rose to unsafe levels.
But if you discover a frozen puddle on the dish you will know that the freezer reached a temperature that was too high and
then when the power came back on your food refroze -- but might no longer be safe to consume.
USDA says never to taste food to determine it's safety. Food might taste good and even smell good might it might be unsafe
to eat. And if any of the foods in your refrigerator come in contact with raw meat juices -- those foods should be discarded
Ice cream and frozen yogurt should never be refrozen and should be discarded. Frankly,
I hate when ice crystals form in ice cream and if there is any sign of any melting it probably won't taste good. I'm picky
when it comes to ice cream.
FOOD IN YOUR REFRIGERATOR
should also be concerned about the safety of our food in a refrigerator during and after a power blackout. The USDA says your
refrigerated food "should be safe as long as power is out no more than 4 hours." During a power outage you should
keep the refrigerator door closed as much as possible and again a thermometer for your refrigerator will be helpful because
the USDA says to "discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers) that have been about
40-degrees Fahrenheit for over 2 hours."
DOUBLE CHECK THE SEAL ON YOUR APPLIANCES
Remember that your food will last longer and you will save energy and save on your food budget if you have tight
seals on your refrigerator and freezer doors. I suggest the "dollar bill test." Close the appliance door with a
dollar bill about half-way inside the appliance. Then pull out the dollar bill and if it comes out too easily the seal is
not tight and cold air and your money are escaping. If the bill is tightly held by the door seals then the seals are tight
and you are holding on to cold air and your money.
REFRIGERATED FOODS THAT ARE
SAFE AFTER A 2-HOURS POWER FAILURE
The USDA identifies some foods that are still safe
after a power failure lasting more than 2-hours in which the temperature of the refrigerator exceeds 40-degrees. These "safe
foods" include: hard cheeses, processed cheeses, butter and margarine, opened fruit juices and canned fruits, many common
fresh fruits, peanut butter, breads, rolls and muffins, and raw vegetables that you had in your refrigerator.
PRINT THIS PAGE
If a power failure occurs, you will probably not be able to
get to your computer to check the information here -- so print this page and keep a copy on the side of your refrigerator
door. Even cell phones could go out in a power emergency.