Refrigerated food and power outages: What to save, what to toss

Flooding montage: Aug. 28

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Thousands of Tri-State residents lost power Sunday night after strong storms hit the area.

Power outages from weather emergencies compromise the safety of stored food, but consumers can take steps to reduce food waste and the risk of foodborne illness.

The Cincinnati Health Department provided these tips on keeping food safe after a power outage.

Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than 4 hours, according to the health department. Keep the door closed as much as possible.

Once the Power is Restored:

Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40° F for two hours or more.

Identify and discard potentially hazardous foods that may have been above 41°F or below 140°F for 4 or more hours or above 45°F for any length of time. Potentially hazardous foods are those high in protein (meats, eggs, dairy) and cooked vegetables.

What To Discard

The following foods in refrigerators and freezers should be discarded if kept over 4 hours at above 41°F, or if the temperature exceeds 45°F for any length of time.

  • Meat, poultry, fish, eggs and egg substitutes (raw or cooked)
  • Milk, cream and soft cheese
  • Casseroles, stews or soups
  • Lunch meats and hot dogs
  • Creamy-based foods made on-site
  • Custard, chiffon, pumpkin or cheese pies
  • Cream-filled pastries
  • Cookie dough made with eggs
  • Whipped butter
  • Cut melons
  • Cooked vegetables

What To Save

The following foods may be kept at room temperature a few days, although food quality may be affected.

  • Butter or margarine
  • Hard and processed cheeses
  • Fresh uncut fruits and vegetables
  • Dried fruits and coconut
  • Opened jars of vinegar-based salad dressings, jelly, relish, taco sauce, barbecue
  • sauce, mustard, ketchup, olives and peanut butter
  • Fruit juices
  • Fresh herbs and spices
  • Fruit pies, breads, rolls, and muffins
  • Cakes, except cream cheese frosted or cream-filled
  • Flour and nuts

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