Preventing Food Spoilage During Power Outages


When the power goes out, as it did on Thursday for many citizens in Lee County, home refrigerators and freezers need special attention to prevent food spoilage. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has resources available with steps to take when the fridge and freezer stop working for more than a couple of hours in a power outage.

According to Patricia Steiner, Nutrition and Health Program Specialist for ISU Extension and Outreach, keeping the freezer door closed will allow food to keep longer because it will act as an insulated ice chest. By doing this, food can stay frozen for one to two days depending on the freezer’s size, seal, and type of food inside.

“As a general rule, perishable foods should be discarded if they are held above 40 degrees for over two hours. Under these conditions, bacteria that cause food poisoning can multiply to unsafe levels,” Steiner said. She also suggests that if your food has thawed, check for ice crystals or that the temperature is at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  If the food meets one or both of those criteria, it can be safely refrozen.

For publications on preventing food spoilage, using dry ice, refreezing specific types of food, and cooking in a power outage; stop in the Lee County Extension office at 414 North Main in Donnellson or call 319-835-5116.

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