If you are among the lucky ones to have your electricity back following the Hurricane Sandy disruptions, it's time to restock your refrigerator. But health officials say there are some important steps you should take to keep you and your family safe.
If your power was out for longer than 2 hours, follow these guidelines:
- A freezer that is half full will hold food safely for up to 24 hours. A full freezer will hold food safely for 48 hours.
- If there are still ice crystals in the food, it may be refrozen.
- If the food defrosted in the freezer, and has not been above 45 degrees for several hours, it should be cooked and served promptly.
- Thawed breast milk should be used within 24 hours of being defrosted. Thawed breast milk cannot be refrozen.
- Condiments such as mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise are safe and may last for a few days without refrigeration.
- Discard any items in either the freezer or the refrigerator that have come into contact with raw meat juices.
- Partial thawing and refreezing may reduce the quality of some food, but the food will remain safe to eat.
Once your power is restored, follow these clean-up guidelines:
- Wipe up spills immediately (don’t forget to check the back of the refrigerator) – clean surfaces thoroughly with hot, soapy water and then rinse.
- If there is an odor, wipe inside with equal parts vinegar and water. Vinegar is an acid, which destroys mildew.
- Be sure to scrub the gaskets, shelves, sides, and door. Allow to air out.
- Avoid using strong smelling cleaning agents (such as ammonia), abrasives, and all cleansers that may pass on a chemical taste to food or ice cubes, or cause damage to the interior finish of your refrigerator. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Check the front grill of the unit to make sure it is free of dust and lint to permit free airflow to the condenser.
Time to restock!
- Allow time for the refrigerator to be below 45º F and your freezer to be below 0º F before restocking.
- Have raw poultry, meat and seafood in a sealed container or wrapped securely to prevent raw juices from contaminating other foods.
- The temperature of the storage shelves in the door fluctuate more than the temperature in the main part of the fridge.
- Don't store perishable foods in the door.
- Eggs should be stored in the carton on a shelf.