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December 6, 2013

Food safety issue during power outages

Ada — Some Pontotoc County residents may face power outages during this weekend’s winter event.

 Individuals and families could possibly be left without electricity for several days. In this event, residents may wonder what foods can still safely be consumed or refrozen and what things should be thrown out.

 Here are several tips for residents as they begin to deal with post-storm events.

 Most meat, poultry and seafood can be refrozen if the product still contains ice crystals and feels as cold as it if were refrigerated. If the meat has thawed and been held above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours it should be discarded.

 Dairy products such as hard cheeses, milk, casseroles containing milk, cream, eggs or soft cheese and cheesecake can be refrozen as long as the foods still contain some ice crystals. If these products reach a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or more for more than two hours it is best to throw them away. The only exception is hard cheese such as cheddar, Swiss or parmesan.

 Fruits and vegetables typically can be refrozen as long as they have not been held above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than six hours.

 Foods such as flour, cornmeal and nuts can be refrozen even if they have reached 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours.

 During a storm emergency, foods can spoil in refrigerators and freezers because of the loss of electricity. Food spoilage can cause strong food odors to develop.

 To help eliminate odors, wash the interior walls of the freezer with a mixture of one cup vinegar and one gallon of water. Another option is to use one cup of household ammonia per gallon of water or one-half cup of chlorine bleach per gallon of water.

 It’s important that you don’t mix any of these household chemicals because they can produce toxic fumes which may be fatal.

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