The power went out. How do I know if the food in my freezer is safe to eat?

Agricultural Disaster Preparedness and Recovery, Food Safety October 05, 2012 Print Friendly and PDF

Thawed or partially thawed food in the freezer may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °F or below. Partial thawing and refreezing may affect the quality of some food, but the food will be safe to eat.

If you keep an appliance thermometer in your freezer, it’s easy to tell whether food is safe. When the power comes back on, check the thermometer. If it reads 40 °F or below, the food is safe and can be refrozen.

Never taste food to determine its safety. You can’t rely on appearance or odor to determine whether food is safe.

Always discard any items in the freezer that have come into contact with raw meat juices.

You will have to evaluate each item separately. For help in doing so, check the Frozen Food and Power Outages: When to Save and When to Throw Out chart.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.