The Food Safety Information Council has released advice and guidelines to help you maintain food safety when the power goes out.

Unless cold storage is available within 2 hours of a power cut, all potentially hazardous foods such as meat, poultry, seafood and ready-to-eat perishable food) that are stored in refrigerators or chillers need to be:

  • placed in alternative cold storage, for example coolers with ice or ice bricks, or into the fridges of family and friend’s
  • eaten immediately
  • if you have a fridge thermometer and have recorded the time the power went off, eaten immediately or thrown away if the temperature rises to above 5 degrees for over 2 hours
  • if you don’t have a fridge thermometer and another cold storage area is not immediately available after 2 hours.

Time and temperature are the most important measurements used to determine whether food needs to be regarded as potentially unsafe.

The ‘4 hour/2 hour rule’ for safe storage of food

The following actions are recommended f or any potentially hazardous food that has been at temperatures between 5 °C and 60 °C for a total of:

  • less than 2 hours – refrigerate or use immediately
  • longer than 2 hours but less than 4 hours – use immediately
  • 4 hours or longer – must be thrown out.

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