Power outages: what to do with food stored in the freezer and refrigerator

Power outages are possible this winter. In such a case, here is what to do for the food in the fridge and freezer.

Will the power cuts that France is suffering this winter affect the food stored in fridges and freezers? If such a scenario were to arise, good reflexes must be taken to avoid any risk.

Before switching off, reduce the temperature

The authorities have assured that the French will have the opportunity to know if they are affected by a cut the day before to the next day. For people whose appliances are temporarily out of order, it is therefore advisable to lower the temperature in the refrigerator, but without freezing the food. The goal is to have a room that is cold enough so that it remains as cold as possible when it is no longer powered. Ice packs normally used in coolers can also be used for this purpose. It is also advisable to put the most risky products downstairs, where it is coldest.

It is especially important to avoid opening the two units, so as not to let heat enter the rooms.

A delay of 4 to 6 hours of cold without power

The good news is that a refrigerator is able to stay cool for four to six hours even without power. As for the freezer, it can continue to freeze between 24 and 48 hours after stopping if it is properly closed. However, power outages will not exceed two consecutive hours for the same sector, authorities said. The risk of losing food should therefore be low. Also note that for both units, the maximum time to keep their freshness is calculated when full.

When the power comes back on, carefully inspect your food

When the power returns, it is better to let the units restart without intervention so that they “rebuild” the cold and keep them closed. Then it is time to return the temperature of the refrigerator to what it was before the anticipation of the cut. Above all, a food inspection will be necessary, although a two-hour cut should not be dangerous, as mentioned above.

The most sensitive products are those that have already been opened, but also meat, fish, dairy products (except cooked cheese and unopened yogurt), eggs or ready meals. If you have any doubts about their edibility, the most reasonable thing to do is throw them away.

In the freezer, products that have partially thawed but still have the wrapper frosted and the center of the food is still hard can be refrozen. Those with a temperature below 4°C can be eaten, provided they are cooked quickly. Again, if in doubt, it’s better to throw it away.

Sometimes very dangerous bacteria

As a reminder, in case of poor food storage, the risk is to see the development of bacteria such as Listeria, E.coli or even Salmonella. Consequences range from symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea or stomach and headache to more serious situations such as death, especially for more fragile people (infants, elderly).

In addition, home appliance brands explain that it is advisable to clean your fridge and freezer after a cut when you refill it. The goal is to remove bacteria that may have settled.

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