NDSU Extension Service - Benson County

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Food Safety and Power Outages

By Kimberly Fox, Extension Agent Family Nutrition Program/Family and Consumer Science

If the power goes out at your house, one of your concerns may be your perishable food.  You may be wondering if your food is safe to eat, especially if the power has been out for several hours. 

The most important fact to know related to food safety after a power outage is temperature.  If the temperature of your food is at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder, it is safe.  If you have a scheduled power outage, or you have a feeling a power outage may be coming your way, it is wise to group your food together in the refrigerator and freezer so that they can keep cold longer.  It is also wise to have a thermometer in your refrigerator so that you can regulate what your temperatures are at and what they should be at. 

If you happen to find yourself sitting in the dark, wondering if your food is okay, be sure to leave your fridge and freezer doors shut.  Opening them only warms up your food faster, allowing for spoilage to occur.  According to the USDA, a full freezer will hold its temperature for 48 hours while a half full freezer will hold its temperature for about 24 hours.  A refrigerator, on the other hand, will only hold its temperature for about 4 hours.  After power comes back on, check to see what the temperature of the foods in your refrigerator and freezer are.  Anything at 40 degrees or lower is safe. 

It may seem wasteful, but do not hesitate throwing away food you are unsure of.  Eating food that has not been properly cooled can cause food borne illness.  Never taste food to see if it is okay.  Oftentimes food will look, and may even taste okay when in reality it is unsafe.  Temperature is key to knowing your food is safe to eat.

Below is a recipe for apricot and lemon chicken.  It is a delicious way to incorporate lean protein in your diet.  Enjoy!

Apricot and Lemon Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts, boneless & skinless (medium)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 5 tablespoons apricot spread (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 fresh lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons water

Directions:

First, rub the cumin over chicken and place in skillet.

Then cook it on medium-high for 6 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Remove from pan and keep warm.  Add apricot spread, lemon juice, and water to skillet. On medium heat, stir until smooth.  Finally, spoon the sauce over chicken and serve it warm.

 

Makes: 4 servings.  Each serving contains 378 calories, 7 grams of fat, 154 mg of sodium, 13 carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, and 62 gram of protein. 

 

Sources:  

  • USDA updates flood food safety advice for consumers, USDA, August 23, 2016
  • ONIE Project - Oklahoma Nutrition Information and Education. Simple Healthy Recipes
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