Power cut: The food in your fridge and freezer you'll need to bin

Publish Date
Thursday, 12 April 2018, 12:00PM

If you've been without power at home, you might be starting to worry about the contents of your fridge and freezer.

By the time you get home from work today, you'll have to make some decisions about what to bin and what you can still safely eat.

When making choices around food safety, here's what you need to keep in mind:

● A fully packed, free-standing freezer (that has remained closed) will stay at acceptably cold temperatures for two to four days.

● The following partially defrosted foods may be safe to eat/refreeze if they still contain ice crystals or have been kept below 4°C: beef, veal, lamb, pork, ground meat, casseroles, soups and stews, hard cheeses, juices, flours, nuts, packaged meals, frozen meals/convenience foods.

● After around four hours you need to start to monitor the temperature inside the refrigerator. Once the temperature inside reaches 4°C or higher, perishable food is only good for two more hours before you should bin it.

● If dairy items, poultry, meat, seafood, fresh pasta, fresh greens, eggs, soy meat substitutes and leftovers have been held at 4°C or higher for more than two hours, discard them.

● If opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce, horseradish, commercial garlic in oil or other spreads (or any salads made with those items) have been held at 10°C or above for more than eight hours, discard them.

● The following items are safe (if they had been opened/refrigerated): Peanut butter, jelly, mustard, ketchup, olives, pickles, barbecue sauce, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, vinegar-based dressings, fruit, raw vegetables and hard cheeses (including grated).

● Never taste food to determine its safety, and do not rely on odour or appearance.

● Place dry ice, a block of ice or several frozen gel packs in a well-insulated cooler; transfer perishables from the refrigerator to the cooler.

● According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, a large block of dry ice will keep the contents of a full, 18-cubic-foot freezer cold for two days.

● A handy tip for the future: Store an ice cube or two in a sealed plastic bag or container in the freezer. If the ice cube has melted down from its original shape, you'll know your food defrosted for a period of time.

This article was first published on NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.