When in doubt, throw it out
Do NOT depend on smell or taste to determine safety of foods.
Throw out any meat, chicken, seafood or dairy product, raw or uncooked, that isn’t at 40 degrees or below (look for visible ice crystals).
Use all perishable foods before shelf-stable ones.
Cook perishable proteins — meats, eggs and poultry — first.
Even cooked meat must stay cold and is good for only three to four days after thawing, and under refrigeration.
Throw out any raw or cooked meat or dairy food that has been sitting at 40 degrees or above more than two hours. If it’s 90 degrees or more outside, 1 hour is the limit on leaving foods out.
Keep hands and preparation surfaces clean.
Use bleach wipes or white vinegar to keep counters and surfaces clean; water from the tap may contaminate surfaces.
Use only bottled water for washing food, hands, surfaces and utensils.
WHAT WILL KEEP
These foods will keep at least two weeks without power:
Cereals and grains
Other foods that are safe
What to throw out
These foods must be thrown out if your refrigerator is off longer than four hours, or if your freezer has been off for more than 48 hours (only 24 hours for a half-full freezer):
Use with caution up to 2 days:
Important: Foods that are labeled kosher, cured, natural or organic have nothing to do with how long a food lasts. Do NOT use those labels as a safety gauge.
Drink as much as you need. Look for more water later.
Treat opened bottles of water as food: Bacteria will grow in it if contaminated; don’t reuse plastic bottles. Open and use it quickly or chill it.
Use water in tub, pipes, water heater or toilet tank for washing or flushing.
You can use water in water heater. Turn off power and open spigot at the bottom. Don’t reconnect the water heater until you’re told the water supply is safe.
If you must purify water:
Use 8 drops unscented liquid chlorine bleach (1/8 teaspoon) per gallon of clear water or 16 drops (1/4 teaspoon) per gallon of cloudy water. Mix thoroughly and let stand 30 minutes.
Water should have a slight chlorine smell; if it doesn’t, repeat dose and let stand another 15 minutes.
If you use household (2 percent) tincture of iodine, use 12 drops per gallon.
Don’t use the wrong strength!
Food safety questions?
Here are some numbers to call if you have questions about food safety:
Home economists take kitchen questions on weekdays. In Palm Beach County, call (561) 233-1742; in Martin County, (772) 288-5654.
Palm Beach Dietetic Assocation: www.eatrightpalmbeach.org
USDA: Meat and poultry hotline: (888) 674-6854. Ask questions at www.askkaren.gov
Get tips at www.fsis.usda.gov
Palm Beach County Library: (561) 233-2600