The big news along the Eastern seaboard is the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. While some people suffered losses, even a few deaths, the end result was more mild than originally predicted. Because warnings started early and were dire, people and communities were more prepared and able to get out of harm’s way and protect their property as best as possible. Today’s post addresses what to do with refrigerated and frozen food vulnerable to spoilage due to power outages.
Traditional wisdom always told us, “When in doubt, throw it out!” This is good advice. No matter how good your sense of taste and/or smell are, all pathogens cannot be detected by our senses.
Experts in food safety agree that food can be safely eaten up to four hours after the power goes out, but depends on several factors: the temperature of the refrigerator (and therefore the food) when the power was lost, how many times the doors are opened and the volume of food in there at the start. The fuller the refrigerator, the longer the food will keep. Freezers will hold food safely for 24-48 hours, also subject to the above conditions.
If the power loss exceeds these times, the safest course of action is to throw the food out. Cooking does not kill all bacteria and pathogens. The risk of poisoning from tainted food is not worth taking to preserve a financial investment. Food poisoning can kill vulnerable populations such as the very young, the old or those with chronic disease.
If food is exposed to flood waters, it too should be discarded. The source or path of the flood water likely contains toxic substances at worst and unclean water at best.
For more information, visit the USDA’s web page:
Since much of the terminology used in food advertising is not regulated, manufacturers are able to make very misleading claims. To understand better some of the definitions and limitations to the truth about these claims, see this article:
While organic food is defined with a little more integrity, it is not cut and dried. Also, organic is more expensive, so save your dollars for when it really counts. Eating your fruits and vegetables is important to your health – and usually overshadows the risks posed by pesticides. For the most part, fruits and vegetables with a thick skin or rind that will be peeled can be safely consumed. In any case, always wash the surface before breaking the skin or you risk getting bacteria from the outside on the part you will consume.
Each year, a list of the cleanest and dirtiest (referring to pesticides) is published. Here is a link to the recent list:
Here in suburban CT, it is so exciting to see wildlife. We see turkeys and deer and of course squirrels, birds, chipmunks and other small critters. Today I went just up the road apiece to Shelton, a mostly suburban town with rural pockets still remaining. On my way into the farm for my weekly share of produce, I saw 7 cows running! I have seen many cows on rural trips but always grazing, or lying under a tree. These guys were on a mission!
This time of year, I am enjoying the share options more than earlier in the season. Today we have lots of tomatoes – sweet and juicy. I can eat them as a snack. Cucumbers, still warm from the field, eggplant, grape tomatoes, sweet as candy. A little kale (Still. It never ends.), sweet and hot peppers. Can’t wait to roast them up tomorrow.
Simple summer eating, and healthy to boot. Enjoy the simple pleasures.