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FLU RESTRICTIONS (Effective January 8): Due to a steady increase in flu cases in our community and in our hospitals, children age 12 and younger should not visit people in Cone Health hospitals. Get the Details

Published on October 12, 2018

How Long Does Food Keep after the Power Goes Out?

How Long Does Food Keep after the Power Goes Out?

The high winds and heavy rains of hurricane season often lead to power outages. When the power goes out, how long does refrigerated food keep? Eating spoiled or toxic food can lead to food poisoning, which can cause uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous health complications. It’s important to be mindful of food safety after a natural disaster. Here are three tips for keeping your food safe after a power outage.

Help keep foods cool by avoiding opening your refrigerator and freezer doors. After a power outage, a closed refrigerator can keep foods cool for up to 4 hours and a full, closed freezer can keep foods cool for up to 48 hours.

Monitor food temperatures to ensure they stay cooled. Food that is spoiled may still look and smell fresh, but may be unsafe if it has been stored at temperatures above 41 degrees for more than 2 hours. To monitor food temperature, you can:  

  • Check the temperature of foods with a sensitive-tip thermometer.
  • Keep a thermometer in your refrigerator and freezer.

Throw out most refrigerated or frozen foods stored at temperatures above 41 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 2 hours. After 2 hours above 41 degrees, most dairy, meats, cooked foods and cut fruits or vegetables are unsafe to eat. Some foods may keep longer. For more detailed information, refer to these guides on the safety of refrigerated foods and frozen foods.

If you suspect that you or a loved one has eaten spoiled food and has food poisoning, reach out to your health care provider for assistance.