It’s fair to say that we rely on electricity more than we like to admit. We need it to process our customers’ payments, cook their food, and power our fridges and freezers.
If the worst should happen and your place of business doesn’t have electricity, how long is food safe in the fridge without power? Well, the answer is a lot less straightforward than you might think. Let’s look at all the different scenarios below.
When In Doubt, Throw It Out
As much as we don’t like food wastage, what we like even less is food poisoning. After learning all about the symptoms and risks of food poisoning while studying for your Texas food handlers card, you’ll probably be more likely to follow the ‘when in doubt, throw it out, rule.
According to the USDA, refrigerators are capable of keeping food safe for up to four hours. That is, of course, as long as you keep the fridge door closed.
After four hours, perishable food like eggs, poultry, fish, and meat that fall into the high-risk food group, should be discarded. It may be wasteful, but it’s the safest option for your paying customers.
Discard or Keep?
If your food has been held above 40°F for longer than two hours, you may not be sure whether you can discard it or keep it. We refer back to the rule of ‘when in doubt, throw it out,’ but some foods are safer than others.
Poultry, Meat, and Seafood
Essentially anything that contains meat, poultry, or seafood should be discarded after two hours of being above 40°F – whether or not it is still in the fridge without power. This includes salads with those ingredients, pizzas with toppings, and opened cans of poultry, meat, or seafood, that say “keep refrigerated.”
If you’re worried about whether or not you have to throw away your entire supply of expensive cheese, you may be pleased to know you’ve got a little more room for error with this produce type.
While you would need to discard soft cheeses, shredded cheeses, and low-fat cheeses, you can keep hard cheeses like cheddar and Colby, processed cheese, and grated parmesan and romano in jars or cans.
Butter and margarine are okay to keep in the event of a power cut. However, to err on the side of caution, throw away any yogurt, evaporated or regular milk, sour cream, soy milk, and egg nog.
All eggs and egg products you have stored in the fridge will need to be discarded if they have been sitting above 40°F for more than two hours. This includes any egg dishes like quiche and custards, fresh eggs, and hard-cooked eggs.
Fruit and Vegetables
You may be pleased to know that most fruit is safe to keep during a power cut. Although, cut fresh fruits and sliced or shredded coconut are unsafe after an extended period non-refrigerated.
Vegetables can be a different story. You may keep uncut fresh vegetables, fresh mushrooms, herbs, and spices, but prepared vegetables and dishes with cooked vegetables should be thrown away.
Dressings, Jams, Spreads, and Sauces
It can sometimes seem like your dressings, jams, and similar can weather any event. Still, they, too, can cause food poisoning without appropriate temperature control.
Peanut butter, mustard, pickles, jelly, relish, taco sauce, catsup, and olives, are all okay to keep, as are the likes of hoisin sauce, barbecue, soy, and Worcestershire. You can also save all opened vinegar-based dressings.
However, fish sauces, oyster sauce, opened creamy-based dressings and opened spaghetti sauce should all be thrown out. If your opened horseradish, mayonnaise, and tartar sauce have been left in temperatures above 50°F for more than eight hours, they, too, should be discarded.
Baked Goods, Pasta, and Grains
While many baked goods, grains, and pasta items are safe to keep after inadequate refrigeration, many are not. Biscuits, cookie dough, and rolls that you need to keep in the fridge should be thrown away once they have been sitting at 40°F for more than two hours.
Pasta salads, fresh pasta, cheesecake, cooked potatoes, rice, and pasta, are also not safe. Although breakfast foods like bagels, pancakes, and waffles are safe, as are fruit pies and bread items like tortillas.
How to Keep Your Fridge Cold in a Power Cut
In a power cut, there are things you can do to limit the amount of wastage your business experiences. On its own, your fridge will stay cool for up to four hours.
However, if you purchase block ice or dry ice, you may be able to maintain its temperature for up to two days – or one day if it’s only half full. You can also use dry ice and ice blocks in your freezer to stop frozen food from defrosting as quickly.
Learn About Safe Food Practices With A Texas Food Handlers Permit
To understand the importance of temperature control and serving safe food to your customers, sign up for your food handlers permit at TABC Pronto. This online course is just $6.99 and teaches you everything you need to know about safe food handling practices in the food industry. Why not enroll now?