Power Outages and Food Safety: Toss it or Keep it?

It seems like the electricity always goes out in Fairfield County when it’s either way too hot or way too cold – talk about inconvenient! Know what’s also inconvenient? Not being sure whether your food is safe to eat during and after an outage.

Obviously, you want to err on the side of caution. And, because harmful bacteria doesn’t always have a rancid smell or taste, you can’t rely on a food’s smell or taste when trying to figure out if it’s safe to eat. (Nor should you try a taste test, since even a small taste might make you sick!) Instead, you should use these tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help you decide what to keep and what to toss once the power’s back on:

  1. Throw away meat, poultry and seafood once it’s been above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours. (Remember: Meat and seafood might be expensive, but so is a hospital bill!)
  2. Discard milk, sour cream, yogurt, and soft cheeses after four hours at 40 degrees or higher. Butter and margarine, as well as hard and processed cheeses, should still be fine.
  3. Toss mayo, tartar sauce, horseradish, and creamy dressings after eight hours at 50-plus degrees. Vinegar-based dressings, along with ketchup, barbecue sauce, peanut butter, etc., are likely fine.
  4. Refreeze food that still contains ice crystals, or is still below 40 degrees.
  5. Dispose of all food that has come in contact with flood waters or firefighting chemicals. Even if it looks unharmed, it could still be unsafe.

We know it’s frustrating to have to throw out food, so here’s a simple trick which can help preserve to preserve food for much longer: when the power goes out, keep the fridge and freezer doors tightly shut. The longer you keep them closed, the cooler those units (and their contents) stay.

As for the cost of all that spoiled food? Your homeowners policy may help, but check in with us here at the Warwick Agency first. If the value of the damages you claim is less than your deductible, you won’t have any coverage. However, if you have both home damage and spoiled food, filing a claim is the way to go.

Finally, why not prepare for Connecticut’s next power outage? Having appliance thermometers in your fridge and freezer, as well as picking up a food thermometer, will help eliminate some guesswork. And, maintaining a nonperishable food supply (you’ll need a can opener too) in a safe place – somewhere cool that’s not susceptible to flooding – means you’ll have something to eat no matter what. Be sure to replace items as they expire or get used.

If you want to be sure about your policy and coverage, call (203) 775-2564 or email us before it’s too late!


p.s. – We are now offering Pet Insurance to Connecticut, Arizona, North and South Carolina residents.  Call us at 203-775-2564 to learn more!

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