Houston storms: Keeping food safe amid power outages

A major issue following the recent storm in Houston has been power outages meaning many Houstonians do not have working refrigerators.

The Houston Health Department is urging residents to practice food safety to prevent foodborne illnesses. Power outages can compromise the safety of refrigerated and frozen foods, making it crucial to follow guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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Here are recommendations from the HHD to keep you and your family safe.

Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed

  • A refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if unopened.
  • A full freezer will maintain its temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if half full) if the door remains closed.

Monitor temperatures

  • Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer. The refrigerator should be at or below 40°F, and the freezer should be at or below 0°F.
  • Throw away any perishable food (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers) that has been above 40°F for two hours or more.

When in doubt, throw it out

  • If you are unsure whether a particular food item is safe, do not taste it. It is better to discard it to prevent the risk of foodborne illness.

Examine each item separately

  • Some foods may appear safe even if they are not. Use both time and temperature to decide which foods to keep and which to discard.

Additional Tips:

  • Have appliance thermometers in your refrigerator and freezer to ensure they are at the correct temperatures.
  • Consider keeping a supply of non-perishable foods that do not require refrigeration.

For further information, please visit the CDC's food safety page.