Food Safety During a Power Outage

Refrigerated or frozen foods may not be safe to eat after the loss of power. Find out what you can do to keep food safe during a power outage, and when you need to throw away food that could make you sick.

BEFORE:

  • Keep appliance thermometers in your refrigerator and freezer.
    • The refrigerator should be at 40°F or below.
    • The freezer should be at 0°F or below.

Prepare for emergencies or natural disasters:

  • Freeze containers of water and gel packs to help keep your food cold.
    • Buy dry ice or block ice to keep your food cold, if you think the power will be out for an extended period of time.
    • Have a cooler and frozen gel packs handy in case you have to remove your food from the refrigerator to keep it cold.
Graphic of refrigerator and freezer thermometers

DURING:

  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed.
  • If the doors stay closed, food will stay safe for up to:
    • 4 hours in a refrigerator.
    • 48 hours in a full freezer; 24 hours in a half-full freezer.
Graphic with steps that say 4 hours in a refrigerator, 48 hours in a full freezer and 24 hours in a half-full freezer

AFTER:

  • Never taste food to determine if it is safe to eat. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Throw out all refrigerated perishable food (meat, fish, cut fruits and vegetables, eggs, milk, and leftovers) after 4 hours without power.
  • Throw out any food with an unusual odor, color, or texture.
  • If you have an appliance thermometer in your freezer, check to see if it is still at 40°F or below.
  • You can safely refreeze or cook thawed frozen food that still contains ice crystals or is at 40°F or below.
Graphic of food being thrown out into trash can