How Long Can Food In Your Fridge Last After The Power Goes Out?

If you’ve ever lost power to your home because of a storm, you’re probably wondering how long all that food in your refrigerator will last before it spoils. According to the USDA, if the power has been out less than four hours, refrigerated food is probably fine. But if it’s likely that the storm will keep the lights off for many days, you’re going to have to be a little more scientific in your assessment.

The key with highly perishable items like prepared food, meats, seafood, dairy and the like is keeping everything above 4C. When the power is out, you can help keep your food cold by not opening your fridge at all. If you have a thermometer in your fridge, just check it whenever you first open up that fridge again to see if everything’s still safe.

If you don’t have a thermometer, you’re going to have to go item by item to make sure it’s all alright. The USDA has both simple and more comprehensive guidelines to help you determine whether your food is still good. (Check the latter for information about your frozen food.) If there’s ever any doubt, don’t risk it. [USDA via The Consumerist]

Image: Olesia Bilkei/Shutterstock

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    "...keeping everything above 4C."? Maybe that should read 'below 4C'.

    50% of what I buy get's thrown away. Normally because I don't eat it quick enough. I always buy salads and stuff but never eat it before it ruins.

    Keeping everything BELOW 4C might be a better option...

    To maintain the cold in your fridge for several "extra" days during a power outage caused by a known event such as Sandy, you could pre-freeze water in PET type soft drink bottles and add these to the fridge (+2C) and freezer (-18C) to slow the inevitable temperature rise.

    Effectively you are turning your fridge into one big esky.

    The more volume of frozen water put in, the slower that inevitable rise. Without doing the thermodynamic calcs, at least 10-20 litres of ice in the freezer and say 20 litres plus in the fridge (for a typical 400 litre refrigerator) would add at least a day or two of cold to protect the food from going off.

    If the outage was unforeseeable, you're buggered.

    I live out in the Perth hills and the powergrid is so shocking, that we're actually considering buying a backup generator as black outs are so frequent (which is bull since we're only 40 minutes away from the Perth CBD). I've found that if you simply never open the door, not even once, you're going to be fine. Fridges these days are so air tight that it's never a problem.

    Here's an awesome article that lists foods you can save from your refrigerator & freezer after a power outage, even if your power has been out for hours!

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