Food Safety During A Power Outage

Inside: Tips and guidelines for how to preserve food during a power outage. How long is food good? What do you keep and what to throw out? and more.

Whether it’s a hurricane, snowstorm, planned outage or a freak accident, we all will experience a power outage from time to time. We are sharing some tips and guidelines today for Food Safety During A Power Outage.

#1 Tip: The most important thing you can do during a power outage is to keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed.  This will help maintain the temperatures longer.


In a power outage, a refrigerator will stay cold for 4 to 6 hours, if your fridge has an internal thermometer, you want it to be at 4°C (40°F) or less. If you can plan ahead, in cases of predicted bad weather and such, have a cooler with ice ready ahead of time to keep refrigerated food cold for more than 4 hours. Store ice in the freezer and transfer food and ice to cooler once the power goes out.


A freezer will keep its temperature for 24 hours if it is half-full and 48 hours if it is full. Keep freezers at or below -18°C (0°F) As a guideline, if there is still frost on the item, it can be refrozen. (Health Canada says that any food that has ice crystals or feels refrigerator-cold can be refrozen once you have power back.)

What & When To Toss From Your Fridge

As a general rule, there are certain non-perishable or semi perishable foods that will fair better than the perishable ones. The following lists will help guide you on what you can keep or what you should throw out after your power is restored.

Fridge Items To Toss After 4 Hours

When the refrigerator temperature is above 4°C (40°F), these are the food items you should dispose of. This is approximately 4 hours after the power goes out.

  • Meats (Cooked & uncooked)
  • Milk including soy and nut milk
  • Yogurt 
  • Sour cream
  • Soft cheeses
  • Eggs
  • Mixed food items, including cooked stews, casseroles, soups, etc
  • Cut up fruit


Fridge Items You Can Keep After 4 Hours

  • Hard Cheeses
  • Butter or Margarine
  • Fruit juice, fresh whole fruits, dried fruits
  • Salad dressing, Ketchup, Mustard, BBQ Sauce(condiments)
  • Olives and Pickles
  • Jams and Jellies


Your home insurance may cover loss of your refrigerated food due to power loss, up to the policy’s limit. You will want to call to inquire about your home insurance coverage.

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