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Lori Ivey Column: How to keep refrigerated, frozen foods safe during power outages

Hurricane season is in full force this year. With the arrival of Hurricane Dorian this week in North Carolina, everyone could use a few reminders about keeping refrigerated and frozen foods safe during power outages.

Make sure you have a thermometer in your refrigerator and a tip-sensitive or digital thermometer to check foods.

Lori Ivey

If the power is out 48 hours or less and your freezer is nearly full, your food may be fine.

If you have available space in your freezer, filling empty jugs with water and freezing them to fill the space will help keep foods at safe temperatures.

You may safely re-freeze foods that still contain ice crystals or that have been kept at 40 degrees F or below. A refrigerator that’s kept closed will keep foods 40 degrees F or below for about four hours.

Keeping doors closed is key to keeping foods cool and at the proper temperature. Foods at risk for pathogen growth are cooked vegetables, raw and cooked meats and fruits and vegetables that have been peeled and/or cut when they’ve been kept at 41 degrees F or above for four hours or more.

For additional info about what to keep and what to throw out during power outages, visit www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/food-safety-during-power-outage.

I keep a printed copy with my cookbooks in the event there is a power outage I’ll have a paper copy to refer to.

For additional information on disaster preparedness visit Extension’s Disaster Information Center at ncdisaster.ces.ncsu.edu/ or call the Extension office at 704-983-3987.

Lori Ivey is the director of Stanly County office of N.C. Cooperative Extension. Call 704-983-3987 or lori_ivey@ ncsu.edu.