Foodservice: Keeping Food Safe during a Power Outage

August 11, 2020, 4:14 pm | Anirudh Naig, Shannon M. Coleman, Angela Shaw

Freezing Zone Thermometer Macro Detail by trekandphoto/, Iowa – When there is an extended power outage, Iowa foodservice establishments need to know whether the food in their refrigerators and freezers is still safe to use and serve, note food safety and nutrition and wellness specialists with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Anirudh Naig, Shannon Coleman, and Angela Shaw provide key food safety tips for keeping and serving safe food.

Naig is a food safety state specialist and associate professor in the ISU Department of Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management; Coleman is an assistant professor and nutrition and wellness state specialist in the ISU Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition; and Shaw is a food safety state specialist and associate professor in the ISU Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.

“During an extended period of power outage like we experienced as a result of the Aug. 10 storm in Iowa, there are best practices for food safety that foodservice establishments can follow,” Naig said.

Naig, Coleman and Shaw shared the following recommendations for food safety during a power outage from the United States Food and Drug Administration:

  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors shut to prevent thawing of food due to repeated exposure to warm air when opening the doors multiple times.
  • Ensure your refrigerator and freezer thermometers are present in the cold holding equipment so you can record the temperature.
  • Write down the temperature of the refrigerator and freezer and time when power was lost.
  • Use dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of time. According to the FDA, 50 pounds of dry ice can keep an 18 cubic foot, fully stocked freezer cold for two days.
  • If temperature of the refrigerator and freezer exceed 40 degrees Farenheit and 32 degrees Farenheit, respectively, then discard the food.
  • Throw out perishable foods (uncooked and cooked) from the refrigerator and freezer after four hours without power.
  • Throw away foods with unusual odors, color or textures.
  • Never taste food to determine if food is “safe to eat.” When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Do not prepare and serve foods that were time and temperature abused by cooking them for a longer time.
  • Keep your foodservice establishment closed until you have a taken all steps to ensure food safety once power is restored.

For more information, see the following sources:

Photo credit: trekandphoto/

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