As winter approaches and the weather becomes more volatile foodservice retailers need to put plans in place for the possibility of power outages. And regardless of the weather, a surprise power outage can happen at any time and compromise the safety of your food and inventory, you, and your business.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reminds you that the best way to ensure that food stays safe is to have a plan in place, and to know what food safety precautions to take if a power outage does occur.
Have a Plan
Plan ahead to keep food safe if the power goes out. Stock up on supplies in advance, or know where to obtain them if needed.
- Use a refrigerator and freezer thermometer, and if possible, check before an outage to ensure that the refrigerator temperature is at or below 40°F and the freezer is at or below 0°F.
- Plan for ice. Know where you can get dry or block ice. Make ice cubes and freeze containers of water or gel packs to help keep food cold in the refrigerator, freezer or coolers.
- Keep coolers on hand to store refrigerated food if the power will be out for more than four hours.
- Freeze refrigerated items that you may not need immediately and group food together in the freezer.
- Stock some alternative items that do not require refrigeration.
Once the Power Is Out
Follow a few key guidelines to keep food as cold and safe as possible once the power goes out.
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. The refrigerator and freezer will keep food cold for a while after it loses power as long as the doors stay closed.
- Use the block and dry ice to keep refrigerator and freezer as cold as possible.
Once Power Is Restored
Before serving any food after a power outage, check the temperature inside your refrigerator and freezer.
- Discard any perishable foods that were above 40°F for two hours or longer.
- If the freezer thermometer reads 40°F or below, food should be safe and can be refrozen. You can’t rely on appearance or odor.
Remember that foods that have not been kept adequately refrigerated or frozen may cause foodborne illness even if they have been thoroughly cooked.
SOURCE: THE U.S. FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION