(NAFB)--With the recent tragic weather events in Kansas and Oklahoma - USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is taking an opportunity to remind residents about the steps they can take to minimize the potential for foodborne illnesses as a result of long-term power outages and compromised food storage.
If the power goes out - folks are reminded to keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible and to buy dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible during extended outages. After a weather emergency - it’s important to check the temperature in the fridge and freezer. Food is safe if the thermometer reads 40-degrees Fahrenheit or below. All perishable foods that were kept in a refrigerator or freezer above 40-degrees Fahrenheit for two hours or more should be discarded. When in doubt - USDA advises - throw it out. Those with questions about the safety of their food as a result of weather damage and power outages can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 888-MPHotline or 888-674-6854 from nine o’clock to three o’clock Central time on weekdays. The FSIS virtual food safety expert Ask Karen is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
USDA also offers tips for preparing for a possible weather emergency. Suggestions include keeping an appliance thermometer in the fridge and freezer, grouping food together in the freezer, freezing refrigerated items that may not be needed immediately, keeping coolers on hand to keep refrigerated food cold if the power will be out for longer than four hours, storing ice in the freezer for use in the refrigerator or in a cooler, freezing gel packs ahead of time for use in coolers and planning ahead to know where dry and block ice can be purchased.