Power outages can bring a number of problems, especially if there are too many perishables in the freezer and refrigerator. Still, don't worry; there are several methods to preserve food while waiting for the light to restore. In this article, you'll see some answers to the most frequently asked questions to ensure food integrity and not take health risks during this period of uncertainty.
Part 1 of 9: How long can food stay in the fridge without light?
Step 1. Chilled food does not spoil for about four hours without force
After this period, they start to heat up and bacteria grow, which can be harmful when ingested. A full freezer preserves cooling for up to 48 hours; if it is half full, the meals last about a day.
If they still feel cool when touched, there should be no problem consuming them
Part 2 of 9: How to save food after a power outage?
Step 1. Leave the freezer and refrigerator doors closed
According to the FDA and the Ministry of Health, refrigerated food remains in good condition and can be eaten in up to four hours, as long as the door is kept closed. In fully-filled freezers, food is frozen for up to two days; if the compartment is half filled, there should be no problems for about a day. You can add ice to fill these compartments.
Step 2. Transfer the refrigerated food to a cooler after four hours
Fill the container with dry ice or cubes to prevent the food from spoiling.
Step 3. Put more ice in the freezer to keep the contents frozen
After a day or two, the food will thaw, which will start to heat up. When the lack of light lasts for more than a day, fill the container with ice and cold compresses.
For reference, about 23 kg of dry ice can keep a 500 L freezer well cool for about two days
Part 3 of 9: How can I keep my food safe?
Step 1. Place perishable foods in the freezer if they are not needed at the moment
Milk, fresh meat and even leftovers will stay in good condition longer in the freezer; if it is fuller, the better, as they can be kept there for about two days.
Part 4 of 9: At what temperatures does the food need to be kept?
Step 1. Perishable foods must be kept below 4°C
Above this range, they become a breeding ground for bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli and others, which are dangerous and lead to the emergence of food-borne illnesses. Do not worry; you can check the temperature of foods beforehand with a thermometer and ensure they are still fit to be eaten.
In freezers or refrigerators with thermometers, check the internal temperature to see if foods are cool
Part 5 of 9: Can I refreeze or cook thawed food?
Step 1. Yes, as long as they are below 4°C
If there are still ice crystals forming, the food can be cooked or refrozen. However, if you're not sure it's still okay, discard it; the most important thing is to stay safe and be healthy!
Part 6 of 9: What happens to foods that go above 4°C for more than two hours?
Step 1. Discard meat, poultry or any dish with a meat base
Experts agree that all types of meat, whether raw or cooked, should be discarded after heating. Even cold cuts, base meat dishes and open meat cans will no longer be suitable for consumption at this time.
Meat spoils the fastest, so discard all of them and their derivatives, including pizza, meat sauces and broths
Step 2. Discard cheese and dairy products, which also spoil quickly
Soft, low-fat cheeses and grated cheeses should not be eaten if they start to heat up. Get rid of milk, cream, yogurt and baby formulas that are already open.
- Throw away condiments like fish and oyster sauces, creamy salad dressings, and mayonnaise. It is also recommended not to consume tartar, horseradish and spaghetti sauce that have already been opened.
- Butter and margarine should not spoil even if they exceed 4 °C for two hours.
Step 3. Discard refrigerated grains and vegetables
Pasta, whether cooked, fresh or raw, creamy desserts, pies based on milk or quindim, as well as cooked vegetables, will no longer be suitable for consumption. The same goes for sanitized vegetables.
Step 4. Fruits can be kept, as well as hard cheeses and vegetables that have not been sanitized
If the vegetables are fresh, they can be eaten at a temperature above 4 °C, unless they are already sliced. Uncut fruit, as long as it is fresh, can be eaten, as well as open juices, already opened fruit cans and dried fruit. Hard cheeses such as Swiss, Parmesan, Provolone and Colby can also be eaten even after heating.
Some condiments such as jelly, peanut butter, ketchup, mustard, relish and taco sauce, as well as vinegar-based salad dressings can be consumed even after they exceed 4 °C
Part 7 of 9: What Should I Eat During a Power Outage?
Step 1. Snack non-perishable foods
Canned goods such as beans, vegetables and fruits, in addition to breakfast cereals, nuts, crackers, protein bars and peanut butter are all suitable options for nourishing yourself during the lack of light. Vegetable and pasteurized milks are also safe for this moment.
- Remove water and mix in canned vegetables to make a quick, tasty salad.
- With canned vegetables and fish, it's possible to prepare tacos quickly, for those who like Mexican food.
- Experts recommend that the freezer or refrigerator door be closed during power outages so that food stays cold longer.
Part 8 of 9: What can I buy in case of a power outage?
Step 1. Purchase ice and gel packs beforehand
The first one can be very useful during “blackouts”; place both, in large quantities, in the freezer so that, if the power goes out, the perishable food can last longer.
Step 2. If you haven't already, buy thermometers for the freezer and refrigerator
They help to monitor food quality during energy shortages. Buy them at any online store, such as Amazon or Submarino, or at physical stores, such as Americanas or Magazine Luiza. They cost around R$30 each.
Step 3. Invest in a generator to keep appliances running longer and not risk losing food
Leave the generator outside the house and at least 6 m away from the house so there is no risk of inhaling toxic smoke.
Part 9 of 9: How to get compensation for spoiled food?
Step 1. The person must contact the company that supplies energy to the region
This right is supported by the Consumer Protection Code. Have at hand documents, statements or values of the damaged products to prove the damage.
- If you don't have any ice packs on hand, fill any container or jar with water and freeze them beforehand. These homemade “compresses” can be used to keep food cool.
- Rearrange the freezer so that the food is closer together, so it stays cold and fresh longer.