Food Safety Related to Power Outages

September 25, 2019 – With potential electricity shortages facing Nevada County, the County Department of Environmental Health offers the following food safety tips to prevent food-borne illness in the event of power outages:

  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Keep potentially hazardous foods, such as meat or poultry, chilled to 41°F or less.
  • Do not place hot or unrefrigerated foods in the refrigerator once the power has gone out. It will raise the temperature inside the unit. Chill food with ice baths as needed. Any foods that were prepared prior to the power outage that were not rapidly cooled should be discarded.
  • If the freezer is not full, group packages together so they will retain the cold more effectively. Without power, a full freezer will keep everything frozen for about 2 days. A half-full freezer will keep food frozen 1 day.
  • If you have advance warning of a power outage and if the outage is anticipated to last more than 4 hours move foods that must be refrigerated to the freezer as space will allow.
  • If necessary, use block ice or bagged ice for supplemental cooling.
  • Keep meat and poultry items separated from other foods so if they begin to thaw, their juices will not drip on to other foods.
  • Discard any thawed food that has risen to room temperature and remained there for two (2) hours or more.
  • Some facilities may need to arrange for temporary refrigerated storage units during a prolonged power outage. (e.g. mobile units/trailers).
  • Kitchen ventilation units will shut off during power outages. Be advised that there have been reports of smoke, heat and grease emissions setting off alarm and fire suppression systems.

When in doubt, throw it out!

When the power comes back on, all potentially hazardous foods must be evaluated for proper temperatures. Bacteria can multiply rapidly on potentially hazardous foods that have been at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Thawed foods that are at 41F or below should be used as soon as possible. Do not refreeze thawed foods. Cook foods to proper temperatures to ensure food safety.

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Food

Minimum Internal Cooking Temperature

Ground Meats 155 Fahrenheit for 15 seconds
Pork 145 Fahrenheit for 15 seconds
Poultry and stuffed meats 165 Fahrenheit for 15 seconds
Eggs 145 Fahrenheit for 15 seconds

Please be advised that a power outage increases the risk of food borne illness and food preparation should cease until power is fully restored.

Permitted food facilities without power should have ceased all operations. Food Facilities with questions regarding food safety should contact Nevada County Environmental Health Department, our information desk at (530) 265-1222 ext. 3, or visit our web site at www.mynevadacounty.org for additional information.

Other useful information on food handling, contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry Hotline at (800) 535-4555, weekdays, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, (EST) or www.usda.gov.