Food safety tips for when the power goes out

By: NewsCenter 16 Email
By: NewsCenter 16 Email

After powerful storms hit Michiana Monday night, many residents and restaurants are facing power outages.

The Berrien County Health Department offers the following food safety tips to prevent food-borne illness in the event of a power outage:

For Residents:

· Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Keep potentially hazardous foods, such as meat or poultry chilled to 41° F or less. If necessary, use block ice or bagged ice for supplemental cooling.

· Do not place hot or unrefrigerated foods in the refrigerator once the power has gone out. It will raise the temperature inside the unit. Any foods that were prepared prior to the power outage that were not rapidly cooled should be discarded.

· Discard any thawed food that has risen above 41° F and remained there for four hours or more.

· If the freezer is not full, group packages together so they will retain the cold more effectively. Without power, a full freezer will keep everything frozen for about 2 days.

· Remember: When in doubt, throw it out!

For Restaurants:

· Food establishment operators should follow the instructions in the “Emergency Action Plans for Retail Food Establishments” guide. This document can be found at

· Food that has exceeded the following time and temperature ranges is potentially hazardous and should be discarded:
--- 41° F or higher for five hours or more
--- 46° F or higher for four hours or more
--- 50° F or higher for two hours or more

· Before reopening, food establishment operators must ensure all equipment is working properly, refrigeration equipment has returned to 41° F or below and equipment and surfaces have been cleaned and sanitized.

When the power comes back on, all potentially hazardous foods must be evaluated for proper temperatures.

Bacteria can multiply rapidly on potentially hazardous foods that have been at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Thawed foods that are at 41° F or below should be used as soon as possible. Do not refreeze thawed foods.

The Berrien County Health Department food safety inspectors are monitoring efforts of impacted food establishment operators to ensure the safety of food sold in restaurants. Any questions regarding the safety of food should be directed to Environmental Health at (269) 926-7121.

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