Is your refrigerated and frozen food safe after a power outage?


MACON, Ga. -- Over a million Georgians were left without power Monday as Tropical Storm Irma passed through.

"I was right in the middle of cooking muffins and it went out right as I pulled the muffins out," said Penny Laspina.

"I've never seen anything like this," said Quinton Palmer.

That means for hours, refrigerators couldn't keep their contents cool.

"If the person experiences an outage lasting more than four hours then the food probably isn't safe," said Michael Hokanson with the North Central Health District. "Freezers can keep food safe for a little bit longer. A full freezer can keep food safe for 48 hours. A half full freezer can keep good safe for 24."

Sometimes food can still feel cool to the touch, so the best way to know if it's really safe is to check the fridge.

"If the fridge itself is 48 degrees or cooler, those foods are probably safe, Hokanson said. "With a freezer if the food is still hard those are absolutely safe. If the frozen foods are a little soft but the packages still have ice crystals, those can be refrozen and eaten."

There are some signs the food has gone bad.

"Change of texture or putting off a bad smell, those should be thrown out immediately," Hokanson said. "Some don't show signs of being safe. The biggest thing is never taste the food to see if it's safe. When it doubt throw it out. It's not worth getting a food-borne illness just to save a little food after a power outage."

Those with renter's or homeowner's insurance may have a safety net.

"Honestly after talking to a few of my friends who have the same insurance company as I do, she was able to file a claim with them to get all of her money refunded for what she lost in her freezer, so if we lose anything we'll be able to recoup it," Laspina said.

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