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How safe is the food in your fridge in a blackout?

When power is cut and you experience a blackout how long can fresh food survive in the refrigerator and freezer?

"A lot of people ring us up and ask," Lydia Buchtman from the Food Safety Information Council said. "They say: 'I keep opening the door and looking to see how the food is'.”

The first thing to do is to try to avoid opening the fridge door as much as possible while the power is out in order to prevent warm air entering the fridge. It is also important to take note of the exact time the power went off.

"Modern fridges are surprising. They will last up to four hours from the time the power goes off," Ms Buchtman said.  “The best thing to do with perishable food — meat, fish, cooked leftovers — is to put them straight in the freezer. Your freezer will last a lot longer because it has been much colder than your fridge.”

"If it's completely full it will actually last for 48 hours before it starts to defrost so that's great. If the freezer is half full it will warm up a lot quicker, probably 24 hours."

If the power outage looks like being long, Ms Buchtman advises taking food to a friend's house to store in their fridge.

"Perishable items such as meat and fish are the obvious ones that are risky to leave too long above 5 degrees Celsius," she said. "Four hours or longer you will need to throw out those perishables including meat, eggs, sliced meats and even salads, especially a rice or pasta salad, however hard cheese, sauces, jars of olives will last and be OK."

If the power comes back on within four hours, cooked leftovers should probably be eaten the same day.

"Normally they only last two to three days in the fridge under 5C anyway," she said.

You may not need to throw everything out in the freezer, even if the food has begun to thaw.

"If your freezer has defrosted a bit, that's OK," Ms Buchtman advises.  "When then power comes back on you can actually refreeze everything in there with really no problems. It might have lost a little bit of quality, but it is a myth that you can't refreeze food which has been defrosted, as long as you have cooked it properly in the first place."


Source : ABC News