Sandy Aftermath: What To Do With Food
Mahwah Health Department recommendations
The Mahwah Health Department posted the following guidelines about how to deal with food in a power-less home on the township website Wednesday.
Use a Thermometer: Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer at all times to see if food is being stored at safe temperatures (41 °F or below for the refrigerator, 0 degrees F or below for the freezer). The key to determining the safety of foods in the refrigerator or freezer is how cold they are. Most food borne illnesses are caused by bacteria that multiply rapidly at temperatures above 40 °F.
Refrigerated Items: These foods should be safe as long as the power is out on more than about four to six hours. Discard any perishable food that has been above 40 °F for two hours or more and any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture. If it appears that the power will be off more than six hours, transfer perishable foods to an insulated cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs. Keep a thermometer in the cooler to be sure the food stays at 40 °F for up to 3 days, even in the summer. Just resist the temptation to keep looking inside!
Keep the Freezer Closed: Each time you open the door, warm air rushes in, reducing the freezer's effectiveness. With the door closed, food in most freezers will stay below 40°F for up to 3 days, even in the summer. Just resist the temptation to keep looking inside!
NEVER TASTE FOOD to determine its safety: Foods may look and smell fine but if they have been at room temperature longer than two hours, bacteria can begin to multiply rapidly and/or toxins may be produced which cannot be killed by cooking.
Discard: Discard the following food products if kept over two hours at above 40°F.
- Meat, poultry, fish, eggs and egg substitutes, either raw or cooked
- Mild,cream, yogurt and soft cheese
- Creamy based salad dressings
- Custards, chiffon, or cheese pies
- Lunch meats and hot dogs
- Discard open mayonnaise, tarter sauce and horseradish if held about 50°F for eight hours.
Refreeze: Thawed foods that still contain ice crystals may be refrozen. Thawed foods that do not contain ice crystals but have been kept at 40°F or below for two days or less may be cooked then refrozen or recanned.