Food Safety Tips During Power Outages

In many homes you can smell the aroma of food spoiling. It's not easy to save food when the power goes out. "That's a ribeye that's warm to the touch. You'll have to throw that out," advised Karen Tucker with the Nacogdoches County Extension Service.

Which unfortunately is what Clara Keller and many of her East Texas neighbors will be doing, throwing out good food that's gone bad. Tucker said, "A lot of people fill their freezers up with lots of homegrown food and large quantities of meat they buy on sale. They take electricity for granted."

After five days, Keller finally has power. Still too late to save so much food that she stockpiles for the holidays. "This is my favorite time of the year, when so many people come and eat with me." the holiday table may be barer than usual.

The rule for detecting spoiled food is pretty simple. If the internal temperature is higher than 40 degrees, throw it out. Food kept cooler than 40 degrees can be salvaged, even if it has thawed. The food can be refrozen, but it's best to cook it and then freeze it. Anything with egg or dairy produces are risky after a power outage. Vegetables should also be thrown out.

As expensive as food is it can be difficult to throw it away, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Food borne illnesses can be even more disturbing than having to throw away food. Symptoms are serious, especially among the very young and elderly.