Power Outage Food Tips

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/power-outage-food-safety-hurricane-sandy_n_2039351.html?ir=Foodhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/food-safety_n_2038763.html?1351523569#slide=1694778www.FoodSafety.govhttp://www.nola.com/hurricane/index.ssf/2012/08/will_we_be_cooking_without_pow.html & Anne’s brain.

Did you hear? FrankenSandy is on its way!!

Here are a few tips about Food Safety in case your power goes out for an extended time (or if you anticipate power loss).

Tips for before the outage: 

  • Fill some ziploc bags with water & stuff them into every nook and cranny of your freezer. A fuller freezer will stay colder longer because there’s more cold stuff in it! Plus, if things really get dire and you run out of water, you can drink the water in the bags! You’re welcome.
  • Grouping together your food in the freezer will help the food stay colder longer.
  • Use an appliance thermometer in the fridge and freezer. Fridge should be 40 degrees or lower and the freezer at 0 degrees or lower.
  • Consider freezing leftover items that you won’t need immediately, such as deli meats and milk. This will help keep these items at a safer temperature longer.
  • Have ice in the freezer in case the power goes out. A cooler with ice will allow you to prolong the life of your food. If you don’t have a cooler, you can also use the ice to keep the refrigerator cool.
  • For pantry items, store all food on higher shelves in case of flooding.
  • As the storm approaches, turn down the temperature of the fridge and freezer to the max to make it as cold as possible. Don’t forget to turn it back once the threat passes.

Foods to pack into your pantry for during the storm:

  • The usual: canned beans, fish and veggies, peanut butter & crackers.
  • More fun & interesting! (not all of these are BuzzNutrition-approved foods… but this is a crisis, people!):
    • Canned coconut milk, shredded coconut
    • Boboli pizza crust, pizza sauce in a squeeze bottle, summer sausage, dry salami.
    • Bulghur wheat (tabouli) does not require cooking. Hydrate, fluff it with a fork, add chopped vegetables and herbs.
    • Low-salt broth
    • Dijon mustard, Creole mustard
    • Dehydrated mushrooms to add to soups; reconstitute for other dishes
    • Real bacon bits in a jar to flavor bland dishes
    • Instant pudding to prepare with evaporated or powdered milk
    • Nuts
    • Individual tea bags that don’t require hot water
    • Instant coffee, creamer packets
    • Small condiment packages (mustard, relish, soy sauce, etc)
    • SPAM (Just kidding! Seriously, do not buy this.)

Cooking during a storm:

  • Even without electricity you can cook!: Use a: grill, camping cookstove, candle- or Sterno-fired fondue pot, indoor fireplace (be sure to open the flue).
  • Do like a Boy Scout & make a foil pack:  Wrap seasoned slices of raw fruits, veggies or meats in heavy-duty foil, seal and put them on the grill.
  • Do NOT use a charcoal or propane grill inside unless you want to perish from carbon monoxide fumes.

Tips for after an outage:

  • Spoiled food puts you at risk for food-borne illness (duh). Although small numbers of Salmonella and e.Coli are normal in a healthy gut, too many is a very bad thing.
  • Do all you can to keep the doors of your fridge/freezer CLOSED. If they stay sealed, your fridge can keep food cold for about four hours, and a full freezer for about 48 hours (24 hours if it’s half full).
  • Discard any perishables that have been stored above 40 degrees F for more than two hours, no matter what their appearance or odor.
  • Never taste food to determine its status… unless you are a crazy scientist.
  • Do not rely on your sniffer. Rotten food only smells rotten if lots of time has passed. Sniffing only works for milk.
  • “When in doubt, throw it out.” Worried about the lost money? Okay, eat it then, and reevaluate after you’ve had diarrhea for 12 hours.
  • If the frozen food contains water crystals, it should still be safe & can be refrozen, though the texture may be weird.
  • Check out these helpful tables: when to toss from fridge, when to toss from freezer 
  • If you have a lot of food that is still okay, but won’t last much longer, cook it up and have a party!
  • You may have stored this stuff in the fridge, but it’ll keep several days at room temperature.
    • Condiments: catsup, mustards, Barbecue, soy and Worcestershire sauces
    • Jams and jellies
    • Peanut butter
    • Oils & butter (if it’s hot out, put the butter in a bowl 🙂 )
    • Bread (aka. future croutons)
    • Hard cheeses (like parmesan, asiago, etc.) As for soft cheeses, eat them right away (brie, cottage cheese or cream cheese)
    • Unopened salad dressing or other condiments

Was there a flood?

  • If there’s a chance a food came in contact with flood waters, toss it (unless it’s in a waterproof container). Also discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers if they may have been in contact with flood waters.
  • Wash all metal pans, ceramic plates and utensils that may have come into contact with flood waters with hot soapy water. Sanitize by boiling them in clean water or by immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water.
  • Use only bottled water that has not been exposed to flood waters. Otherwise, boil it.

Stay safe! 🙂

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