“When in Doubt, Throw it Out” to avoid food poisoning.
Hurricanes and tropical storms can knock out power for days at a time, but even a basic Florida thunderstorm can cause brief power outages. The next time your power goes out for even a little while, don’t forget to check your refrigerator.
Certain foods, like meat or dairy products, are extremely temperature sensitive and are susceptible to spoiling very quickly under the wrong conditions.
Avoid opening your refrigerator until power returns—food will stay cold for two to four hours after an outage. With the doors closed, a full freezer can keep food safe for almost two days (one day if it’s 1/2 full).
If you are unsure, check your food temperature with a thermometer. Temperatures should be kept at 40 degrees F (4.4 degrees C) to be considered safe to eat. Dump any food that was warmer than 40 degrees F for more than two hours to avoid food poisoning.
The bacteria that causes food poisoning grows on foods stored at unsafe temperatures. Symptoms of food poisoning may include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever, and nausea—and typically occur 2-6 hours after eating contaminated food.
Depending on the type of bacteria causing your symptoms, food poisoning may improve on its own in a couple of days. But see your doctor if symptoms are severe, you become dehydrated, have a fever that can’t be controlled or diarrhea/vomiting that persist.
Remember, food doesn’t have to smell bad to be unsafe. When it comes to food safety, stick to the rule of “When in Doubt, Throw it Out.”