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How Long Will Food Last In The Refrigerator And Freezer If There's A Power Outage?

BOSTON (CBS) -- With wind gusts of up to 70 mph expected in parts of Massachusetts, some power outages are likely on Monday. So what does that mean for the food that some people may have stockpiled in the refrigerator or freezer amid the coronavirus pandemic?

The FDA has several tips on its website for keeping food safe in the event of a power outages. If the power goes out, the agency says one of the most important things is to keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed "as much as possible."

"The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened," the FDA says. "A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed."

fda food safety
Food safety tips during a power outage (Image credit: FDA)

Food in the refrigerator should be safe if the outage lasts for less than four hours and the door was kept closed. The FDA recommends checking the temperature in the fridge and throwing out any perishable foods like meat, milk and eggs that has been at a temperature above 40 degrees for over four hours.

"Perishable foods with temperatures that are 45°F or below (measured with a food thermometer) should be safe, but should be cooked and consumed as soon as possible," the FDA says.

For the freezer, food is safe and may be re-frozen if the temperature stays at 40 degrees or below. If you don't have a thermometer, ice crystals can indicate that food is safe to refreeze or cook.

When preparing for a possible power outage, the FDA recommends freezing refrigerated items like milk and meat that you may not need immediately, and grouping food together in the freezer to help it stay cold longer. Equipping the refrigerator and freezer with appliance thermometers can help  determine if food is safe to eat.

Visit the FDA's website for more tips.

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