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What food in the fridge is safe to eat after losing power? Food safety expert weighs in.

What food in your fridge do you need to throw out after losing power?
What food in your fridge do you need to throw out after losing power? 01:56

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — An expert explains what should stay and what should go when it comes to the food in your fridge after losing power.

After high temperatures and severe weather hit the Pittsburgh area on Monday, many people were without power for hours. Some people are still waiting for their power to return on Tuesday. 

If your fridge stopped running for even a few hours, food safety expert Trevor Craig says the perishable items inside are not safe to eat. 

"Your fridge is able to keep temperature for about four hours," Craig of Microbac Laboratories said. "After that, perishable food is no longer good to eat after about two hours."

"That includes meats, soft cheeses, cut fruits or vegetables, anything that is dairy- or egg-based," Craig added.

With the hefty cost of groceries these days, no one wants to waste an ounce of food. However, Craig said the alternative isn't worth it.

"I know that it is an expensive thing to throw away and not everyone wants to toss that," Craig said. "But foodborne illness can land you in the hospital for weeks. It can even be deadly in some cases, which is going to be way more costly."

The United States Department of Agriculture urges people not to test food after a power outage to determine if it's safe or not. When in doubt, throw it out. 

"By the time you can smell or see or taste a difference because of bacteria, those counts are so high that they are way past the point where it is dangerous," Craig said. 

An important thing to remember when looking at sell-by dates is that they're only a suggestion.

"A sell-by date is a food quality measurement, not a food safety measurement. Those are only required for a few items like baby formula and a few meal replacements," Craig said. 

Overall, it is better to be safe than sorry when taking your health into your own hands.

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