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READY TOGETHER
NEW JERSEY:
A Citizens Guide to Emergency Planning. Download in
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DIVISION OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH

WHAT TO DO WITH FOOD DURING & AFTER POWER OUTAGES

This has been reprinted from Food News for Consumers,
Summer 1989
US Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service.

BE PREPARED:
If you live in an area where loss of electricity from storms is a problem, you can plan ahead to be prepared for the worst. Stock up on shelf-stable foods - canned goods, juices and the new "no-freeze" dinners in paper cartons that last 6 to 8 months. Plan ahead for ice. Buy some freeze-pak inserts and keep hem frozen. Buy a cooler. Freeze water in plastic containers. Know in advance where you can buy dry and block ice. Develop emergency freezer sharing plans with friends and in another part of town or in a nearby area.

KEEP YOUR REFRIGERATOR AND FREEZER DOORS CLOSED:
Keep what cold air you have inside. Don't open the door any more than necessary. You'll be relieved to know that a full, freestanding freezer will stay at freezing temperatures about 2 days; a half-full freezer about 1 day. If your freezer is not full, group packages together so they form an "igloo" protecting each other.

If you think power will be out for several days, try to find some dry ice. Follow the handling instructions carefully, You don't want to touch the dry ice or breathe the fumes in an enclosed area. Twenty-five pounds of dry ice can be used in the refrigerator, block ice is better. You can put it in the refrigerator's freezer unit and place your refrigerated perishables there - meat, poultry, and dairy items. Group meets and poultry to one side or on a try so that if they being thawing, their juices won't get on other food.

IF FOOD HAS STARTED TO THAW, WHAT CAN SAFELY BE DONE?
You will have to evaluate each item separately. See the charts for different frozen and refrigerated foods. Generally, be very careful with meat and poultry product or any food containing milk, cream, sour cream or soft cheese. When in doubt, through them out.

WHAT ABOUT HOW THE FOOD WILL TASTE?
Raw meats and poultry from the freezer can usually be refrozen without too much quality loss. Prepare foods, vegetables and fruits can normally be refrozen, but there may be some quality loss. Fruits and fruit juices can be refrozen with minimal quality loss.

Refrigerated items should be safe as long as power is out no more than a few hours. After hat, you may have to discard them unless block ice was added to the refrigerator or they were transferred to the freezer.

Below are the rules of thumb guides for the actual handling of specific foods, follow the instructions in the chart. Remember, you can't relay on appearance or odor. never taste food, either, to determine its safety! some foods may look and smell fine, but if they've been at room temperature too long, food poisoning bacteria may have multiplied enough to cause illness. For more information, call the Meat and Poultry Hotline toll free at 1-800-535-4555, or your local Department of Health.

WHEN TO SAVE AND SERVE
AND WHEN TO THROW OUT YOUR FOOD

FOODS Still contains ice crystals and feels as good as if refrigerated Thawed, Held above 40° F for over 2 hours
Meat, Poultry, Seafood:
Beef, veal, lamb, pork and ground meats Refreeze Discard
Poultry and ground poultry Refreeze Discard
Variety meats (liver, kidney, heart) Refreeze Discard
Casseroles, stews, soups, convenience foods, pizza Refreeze Discard
Fish, shellfish, breaded seafood products Refreeze, however there will be some texture and flavor loss Discard
Dairy:
Milk Refreeze, may loose some texture Discard
Eggs (out of shell and egg products) Refreeze Discard
Ice Cream, frozen yogurt Discard Discard
Cheese (soft and semi-soft) cream cheese, ricota Refreeze, may lose some texture Discard
Hard Cheese (cheddar, swiss, paramnesia) Refreeze Refreeze
Casseroles containing mile, cream, eggs, soft cheeses Refreeze Discard
Cheesecake Refreeze Discard
Fruits:
Juices Refreeze Refreeze, discard if mold, yeasty smell or sliminess develops
Home or commercially packaged Refreeze. Will change in texture and flavor Refreeze, discard if mold, yeasty smell or sliminess develops
Vegetables:
Juices Refreeze Discard after held above 40° F for 6 hours
Home or commercially packaged or blanched Refreeze. may suffer texture and flavor loss Discard after held above 40° F for 6 hours
Breads and Pastries:
Breads, rolls, muffins, cakes (without custard fillings) Refreeze Refreeze
Cakes, pies, pastries with custard or cheese fillings Refreeze Discard
Pie crusts Refreeze Refreeze
Commercial and homemade bread dough Refreeze. Some quality loss my occur Refreeze. Considerable quality loss.
Other:
Casseroles, pasta or rice based Refreeze Discard
Flour, cornmeal, nuts Refreeze Refreeze
REFRIGERATOR FOODS Food still cold, held at 40° F or above under 2 hours Held at 40° F for over 2 hours
Dairy:
Milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, evaporated milk, yogurt Safe Discard
Butter, margarine Safe Safe
Baby Formula, opened Safe Discard
Eggs:
Eggs fresh, hard cooked in shell, egg dishes Safe Discard
Custards and Puddings Safe Discard
Cheese:
Hard cheeses, processed cheese Safe Safe
Soft cheeses, cottage cheese Safe Discard
Fruits:
Fruit juices, opened Safe Safe
Canned Fruits, opened Safe Safe
Fresh fruits, coconut, raisins, dried fruits, candied fruits, dates Safe Safe
Vegetables:
Vegetables, cooked, vegetable juices, opened Safe Discard after 6 hours
Baked potatoes Safe Discard
Fresh mushrooms, herbs, and spices Safe Safe
Garlic, chopped in oil or butter Safe Discard
Casseroles, soups, stews Safe Discard
Meat, Poultry, Seafood:
Fresh or leftover meat, poultry, seafood Safe Discard
Thawing meat or poultry Safe Discard if warmer than refrigerator temperatures
Meat, tuna, shrimp chicken egg salad Safe Discard
Gravy, stuffing Safe Discard
Lunchmeats, hotdogs, bacon, sausage, dried beef Safe Discard
Pizza - meat toppings Safe Discard
Canned Meats (Not labeled "keep refrigerated) but refrigerated after open) Safe Discard
Canned hams, labeled "keep refrigerated" Safe Discard
Pies, Pastry:
Bread, rolls, cakes, muffins, quick breads Safe Safe
Refrigerated biscuits, rolls, cookie dough Safe Discard
Cooked pasta, spaghetti Safe Discard
Pasta Salads with mayonnaise or vinegar base Safe Discard
Sauces, Spreads, Jams:
Mayonnaise, tartar sauce, horseradish Safe Discard if above 50° F for over 8 hours
Peanut butter Safe Safe
Opened salad dressing, jelly, relish, taco and barbecue sauce, mustard, catsup, olives Safe Safe

 

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