Food safety during a power outage

We lost power this past week.  The house went silent and dim three times in 24 hours.  Two of these outages happened in the wee hours of the morning of which we were aware only because of the doorbell ringing when the power went back on.

And, of course, the fridge stopped running and cooling the food that I had just purchased at the grocery store.

This meant that I had to dump the fresh eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, packaged pre-washed greens, cream-based salad dressings, any leftovers that I had planned to eat for lunch and some thawed frozen food.  I was able to keep the juices, fresh fruits and veggies, and condiments such as mustard and ketchup.

Heartbreaking, I know.  Then I was off on another trip to the store to replace what I threw out.

If this ever happens to you, please resist the temptation to keep certain foods that may have been sitting in the fridge at temps above 40 degrees for more than 4 hours.  Between the temps of 40 and 140, bacteria will grow and party.  And you do not want the nasty symptoms, some life-threatening, that the bacteria or their toxins can bring on.  The amount of money that you lose by throwing out the spoiled food is small in comparison to the possible pain and time lost to food poisoning (not to mention medical bills).

For a list of foods that must be tossed and those that can be kept, visit There you will find a list of foods in a handy form that can be printed and taped inside a cupboard door for future reference.

Storm season is upon us.  Take care to make sure your food supply is safe.