Detailed below are the recommendations of government Health Departments relating to the safety of food during and after a power outage.
Unfortunately, the problem for every business that stores food – cafes, delis, hotels, restuarants, school tuckshops, childcare centres – is not knowing the duration of the power outage that happens when the business operator is not at the business overnight and at weekends.
That’s why every business storing food needs NoPowerTXT to clearly determine the duration of the power outage and therefore the steps necessary to guarantee the safety of food consumers.
The cost of the easily installed NoPowerTXT system is insignificant compared with the cost of unnecessarily disposing of food because you did not know how long the power was off, or even more so, the cost to your business if the health of your customers is adversely affected by food you supply.
The following are recommendations that apply to food safety during an extended power outage (more than two hours).
Appropriate decision making before, during, and immediately after a power outage is necessary to protect consumers from unsafe food and minimize product loss.
Health Departments recommend that food establishments develop a power outage plan before the need arises.
When there is a Power Outage
- Note the time the power outage begins.
- Discontinue all cooking operations.
- Do not place hot food in refrigerators or freezers, as this will rapidly raise the temperature inside the refrigerator or freezer and may make more food unusable.
- Discard food products that are in the process of being cooked, but which have not yet reached the final cooking temperature.
- Maintain hot potentially hazardous food at 140º F or above. Food that has reached final cooking temperature may be kept hot (140º F) by use of canned heat in chaffing dishes.
- Use ice or/ice baths to rapidly cool small batches of hot food.
Potentially Hazardous Foods
Potentially hazardous foods are those foods such as high protein foods (meat, eggs, dairy) and cooked vegetables that support the rapid and progressive growth of disease-causing bacteria. Foodborne illnesses can be caused by bacteria that can multiply rapidly in foods when the food is held in the temperature danger zone (41° to 140º F).
Keep foods at safe temperatures
Refrigerated potentially hazardous foods must be stored at or below 41º F. Frozen foods must be maintained frozen. Hot cooked potentially hazardous food must be maintained at 140º F or above.
Leave the freezer door closed. A full freezer should keep food safe about two days – a half-full freezer, about one day. Add bags of ice or dry ice to the freezer if it appears the power will be off for an extended time. You can safely re-freeze thawed foods that still contain ice crystals and are 41º F or less.
Caution: the use of dry ice may result in the unsafe build-up of carbon dioxide.
Food in refrigerators should be safe as long as the power is out no more than about four to six hours. Leave the door closed; every time you open it, needed cold air escapes, causing the foods inside to reach unsafe temperatures. Discard any potentially hazardous food that has been above 41º F for four hours or more, reached a temperature of 45º F or higher for any length of time, or has an unusual colour, odour or texture.