Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

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ruanddu
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Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by ruanddu »

We had some nasty wind storms here and power has been out for about 8 hours. Do you know how long food will keep in fridge and freezer? Thanks!
barnaclebob
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by barnaclebob »

Freezer is fine for awhile, well over a day.

Food in the fridge is also probably fine for a good bit longer except for meat. eggs, cheese, condiments don't worry about until longer. You must be near me, our power was out for about 5 hours but is back on now.
Uniballer
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by Uniballer »

FDA link: Food and Water Safety During Power Outages and Floods

I don't know where you are, but at my place the air temperature has not been above refrigerator temperature outside for several weeks. That suggests several temporary options.
Last edited by Uniballer on Wed Jan 13, 2021 11:45 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by Soon2BXProgrammer »

:sharebeer to all the fellow pacific north west people.
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JoMoney
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by JoMoney »

Some foods will last longer then others.
Milk that is already near expired will expire even quicker. A jar of pickles might last for months outside a fridge (despite the label saying to refrigerate after opening).
If you don't open the refrigerator at all, it should continue to stay cool and everything may be good for a long period. If the fridge is full of stuff is already chilled, and the door is kept closed, it will continue to keep the things around it chilled... for awhile..
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by DoubleComma »

Treat it like an ice chest and try not to open it unnecessarily.

I would be comfortable with a 2-3 days on freezer items and at least 24 on the fridge.

We have a second home that we use a lot, but occasionally it might be 4-5 weeks between visits. Here we have a mug of frozen water in the garage deep freezer (only place we store food longer term in that house) with a quarter on top. Everyone in the family knows if you show up and the quarter is embedded in the ice, throw away the food. Obviously something caused to ice to melt and refreeze.
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by diy60 »

Longest period I lost power was 6 days. Around day 4 I moved the contents of the frig and freezer to a relatives house.
nimo956
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by nimo956 »

Eggs should be fine at room temperature for a while, but if you are worried make hard boiled eggs.

If you are worried about milk expiring, you could make yoghurt or cheese.

Meat in the refrigerator should be cooked.

As others have said, keep the doors closed as long as possible.
Last edited by nimo956 on Wed Jan 13, 2021 11:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

Don’t open the refrigerator or freezer doors. Toss the milk and eggs, why take chances. The other stuff is depending on how long the powers been out - 8 hours is not that long.
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by gwe67 »

Buy some large bags of ice and all will be fine until power is restored. Or just bag some snow if it's that cold.
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by littlebird »

No more than 4 hours above 40 degrees for foods requiring refrigeration.
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by livesoft »

littlebird wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:06 pm No more than 4 hours above 40 degrees for foods requiring refrigeration.
I have not died nor gotten sick from eating food left out for more than 4 hours. When we were kids and when we were adults we would take lunches to school with lots of refrigerated items and eat them after they were out more than 4 hours.

I don't know how you could even make such a statement.
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by gatorking »

From the link above "The FDA recommends checking the temperature in the fridge and throwing out any perishable foods like meat, milk and eggs that has been at a temperature above 40 degrees for over four hours."
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by livesoft »

gatorking wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:16 pm From the link above "The FDA recommends checking the temperature in the fridge and throwing out any perishable foods like meat, milk and eggs that has been at a temperature above 40 degrees for over four hours."
That is total CYA in action. I don't think any eggs could be sold in the USA if that was upheld.
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ruanddu
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by ruanddu »

Thanks, everyone.

Livesoft - can you explain what CYA means?
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by Uniballer »

CYA means Cover Your Posterior
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by Katietsu »

gatorking wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:16 pm From the link above "The FDA recommends checking the temperature in the fridge and throwing out any perishable foods like meat, milk and eggs that has been at a temperature above 40 degrees for over four hours."
This is way to generalized. Also, thoroughly cooking food, will take care of a lot of concerns. I am afraid of posting to much detail for fear of someone misusing it and getting sick. But, I will say to start thinking about good ways to use/cook the perishables in the fridge asap. Assume the electric comes back on this evening. Make old fashioned cooked pudding with the milk. Cook up all the meat. If it is more than one meal, refrigerate or freeze the cooked food.

If you have expensive items in the fridge, move them to the freezer. If you can get ice, put it in the freezer and fridge. These things will need to be done very quickly because you do not want the door open for a second longer than necessary.

I grew up with electricity that went out for a hours or even days several times a year. Moved to an area as an adult with much less problems, but the 5 hour outage is not much more than a speed bump.
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by littlebird »

livesoft wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:10 pm
littlebird wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:06 pm No more than 4 hours above 40 degrees for foods requiring refrigeration.
I have not died nor gotten sick from eating food left out for more than 4 hours. When we were kids and when we were adults we would take lunches to school with lots of refrigerated items and eat them after they were out more than 4 hours.

I don't know how you could even make such a statement.
I made that statement because that was the fda advice when my neighborhood lost power. And yes, that’s a cautious approach and most people will not die if they prolong the time. But most people on this board can afford to play it safe.

As to foods brought to school: mothers generally knew not to send milk, eggs and egg-containing foods and uncured meats to school.

At least when I was a child, a long time ago, more food was locally raised and contained less, for example, salmonella than it does now. In fact, when I was a child eggs were normally kept unrefrigerated in the store, although most people refrigerated them when they brought them home. Different times . . .
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by Yooper »

littlebird wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:36 pm In fact, when I was a child eggs were normally kept unrefrigerated in the store, although most people refrigerated them when they brought them home. Different times . . .
A bit off topic, but I stumbled across this video a while back, fascinating. I always wondered why eggs weren't refrigerated when I was abroad and this answered the question. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bo3PDWeHb58
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by KlangFool »

OP,

I kept some ice substitutes in my freezer for this kind of situation. I just move some of the ice substitutes into the refrigerator section and keep them on the top shelf. The cold air travels downward.


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ruanddu
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by ruanddu »

Thanks again for the replies. Very helpful!
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by LittleMaggieMae »

You've got about 12 hours on the Fridge and 24 hours or more on the Freezer if you don't open them much.

You might want to empty out the automatic ice cube maker bin. You could use the cubes now or bag them (in a bag that won't leak) and put it back in the freezer. Or put them in a cooler to keep something special from the fridge cold.


Today and in the next few days:
In your Fridge:
I'd plan to re-heat and eat ASAP any of the fast food/restaurant/take out left overs that are currently in your fridge. They will be the first stuff that becomes trash.

I'd plan to re-heat and eat any of the meat/egg/dairy foods YOU cooked (ie leftovers) that are in the fridge next.

I'd then plan to use any meat you had in your fridge (but I'm guessing you were planning on using it soon anyway). I would plan to use any lunchmeat - even the kind in prepackaged containers that haven't been opened within a day or two as well.

If you've got plain Greek Yogurt it will most likely survive not being cold for hours or a day. (well, mine always has).
Someone's gone over milk.

Eggs are kind of the same way depending on how old they are. Hard boiled eggs survive quite nicely outside the fridge (store them someplace cool).

Your fruits/veggies should be fine. Your condiments should be fine. Butter should be fine.

This is a great opportunity to take inventory and clean out your fridge. You can go thru all the odds and ends and check "best by dates" and such. It might be time to toss out that partially used squeeze bottle of yellow mustard that has a 'best by date' in 2018. :)
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by jm1495 »

livesoft wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:10 pm
littlebird wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:06 pm No more than 4 hours above 40 degrees for foods requiring refrigeration.
I have not died nor gotten sick from eating food left out for more than 4 hours. When we were kids and when we were adults we would take lunches to school with lots of refrigerated items and eat them after they were out more than 4 hours.

I don't know how you could even make such a statement.
These are food safety guidelines established through testing. It's the same guidelines that your local restaurant has to follow and the health department inspects for.
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by egrets »

Uniballer wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 11:41 am FDA link: Food and Water Safety During Power Outages and Floods

I don't know where you are, but at my place the air temperature has not been above refrigerator temperature outside for several weeks. That suggests several temporary options.
When I was in college in winter we would put food outside on the windowsill.
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by likegarden »

Food will last for several days. When I grew up we had no refrigerator for many years. We had a chamber from the kitchen with a window to the outside, which we opened for cool outside air. We also had no air-conditioning and central heating. There was no heating in the kitchen except occasionally from baking and cooking in an oven, and a portable electric heater. When there was a thunderstorm, occasionally milk turned to yoghurt, so we thought, which I liked to drink then.
With all that experience from my youth I laugh when persons in my family complain, that food is no longer fresh when outside the refrigerator for a few hours and should be discarded.
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by Tamarind »

Agreed, the only things I'd consider tossing would be milk, meat, and opened containers of broth. Everything else, including eggs, is fine for several days to much longer, basically as long as it still looks and smells good.
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by Mitchell777 »

I went through this during the summer. Power went out. Power company kept giving me estimates and did not show up, then another estimate and did not show. For over three days. I lost the food. If you can quickly take the food to a friend or relative it may be fine. I've been w/o power for eight hours and never had a problem with any of the food, but then my freezer keeps things really cold. If in doubt toss it.
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by OffGridder »

I am one of the fellow PNW Bogleheads who lived through the windstorm yesterday.

I am just providing a data point. Our power was down for just short of 8 hours. We did not open the refrigerator for the first 4 hours. When, I did the temp was 40F. Normally it is at 36F. When the power came back on the temp was up to 42F. The freezer was at 18F. Normally it is at 0F. We have chest freezer in our uninsulated garage. After 8 hours the temp was up to 8F.

In house temp was around 65. Outside temp ranged from 38 to 45.

We did not throw out anything. Consumed some dairy items. Still alive today.

YMMV.
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by campy2010 »

Where I live, outside is fridge temp right now. If it's cold out put stuff outside.
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by praxis »

It depends on the food. We endure outages regularly, either from hurricanes (sometimes days or weeks) and windstorms and heavy snows that take down lines. We keep plastic bottles of water in our freezer always. If food begins to thaw, we buy some bags of ice and pack it in coolers and we cook the rest. These frozen water bottles (we use larger juice-size bottles-they last longer) keep food safe in coolers or the refrigerator. When we leave for a month, we do not leave any animal protein-containing foods like meat, dairy. They are the foods that have sent refrigerators to the landfill when left warm too long. Ketchup and pickles, not so much. Styrofoam coolers are sold at dollar stores.
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by go_mets »

We lost power for 18 hours this past summer.
Did not open the freezer.
May have opened the refridgerator the next morning.

After the power came on, boiled the eggs.
We do not drink dairy milk so we did not have that worry.
The vegetables and fruits were fine.

We cooked the frozen shrimp from the freezer.

No food poisoning.

As for food, we cooked canned foods for dinner that night.
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by megabad »

Our meat freezer will go about 2 days before I start seeing some real water flowing from the drain if I pop it. I usually dump a few bags of ice and a big piece of meat will generally stay frozen another day after that. After 4 days or so I would be getting ready to have an unplanned neighborhood cookout.

..I don’t care about the stuff in my fridge so I just toss it if power goes out more than a day (less than that I don’t worry). I think I can swing a few dollars for milk and a few other dairy products. If I have meat in the fridge thawing I might chuck that into a cooler with ice. Or cook it up and eat it on the spot.
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by illumination »

Anything with meat or dairy in a fridge, I would probably throw out if over 8 hours. Not worth getting food poisoning for what is probably $40 worth of food. It's probably okay, but I think it's cheap insurance. My fridge warms up quickly if you don't religiously keep the door closed.

During the height of Covid, my refrigerator started acting up and getting "cool" but not cold. Like 50 degrees. I ended up having to fix it myself (I couldn't get a repair guy to even come out) it was a defrost problem. But we think we got mild food poisoning from some deli meat that wasn't stored in a cold enough setting.
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by livesoft »

I would not be surprised to find out that many people do not even have their refrigerator temperature below 40 deg F as a normal setting. Our cycles between 36 F and 38 F.
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by dratkinson »

Disclosure. For thermal mass, I keep my refrigerator's freezer section* full... some frozen food, but a large percentage is devoted to milk jugs of frozen water. This is to ensure I can coast a few days without power. A peanut butter jar with a quarter sitting on top of ice is in the freezer section door as a CYA. (* Bought a top-freezer refrigerator so it would work like great-grandma's ice box---heat rises, cold settles.)


Idea. Freeze milk jugs* of water outside over night. Put frozen jugs in refrigerator/freezer. Lather, rinse, repeat daily as needed. (* Half gallon jugs are easier to make fit, have higher percentage of surface area to volume, so should have faster heat exchange. And are a good excuse to buy more chocolate milk and egg nog than you would otherwise.)


Idea. Freeze a small plastic jar (peanut butter,...) of water. Put a quarter on top of ice in jar. Put a jar in each refrigerator and freezer. If power is out and refrigerator/freezer completely thaws, quarter will sink to bottom of jar. If you come back from vacation and the quarter is sitting on the bottom of the jar, then you can worry.


Idea. Portable backup generator: https://www.google.com/search?q=portabl ... rg%2Fforum


Other info: https://www.google.com/search?&q=detect ... wer+outage
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by h82goslw »

DoubleComma wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 11:46 am Treat it like an ice chest and try not to open it unnecessarily.

I would be comfortable with a 2-3 days on freezer items and at least 24 on the fridge.

We have a second home that we use a lot, but occasionally it might be 4-5 weeks between visits. Here we have a mug of frozen water in the garage deep freezer (only place we store food longer term in that house) with a quarter on top. Everyone in the family knows if you show up and the quarter is embedded in the ice, throw away the food. Obviously something caused to ice to melt and refreeze.
This is genius!
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by squirm »

I toss must stuff if it's over eight hours. I hate eating something while thinking I might get sick.
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by Ivygirl »

A large part of my city lost power for 14 days in October. Everyone barbecued their meat on the third day. What couldn't be eaten was just lost. There was no ice to be had anywhere and most stores were also powerless for the first few days. The lost food was a real tragedy to anyone on a fixed income or who had lost their job.

What lasted the entire time in good condition without refrigeration: carrots, apples, cabbage, potatoes, ketchup. Eggs lasted a little while (I put them on the cool tile floor) but I did end up throwing some away due to salmonella fears. Fortunately I had a stock of canned food on hand as COVID supplies but it was annoying not to be able to use mayonnaise.

Buy some canned food people, word to the wise. Also put in a stock of something to do when there is no electricity. Playing cards, physical books, knitting. String for making cat's-cradles. Anything.
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Re: Power is Out - Do you Know How Long Food Lasts in Fridge?

Post by bhwabeck3533 »

Some of you remember me from my post on this topic. I was the teary-eyed guy with a partially thawed 13-lb brisket still in the freezer with the original Costco cryovac packaging. Lots of other meats and sundry sauces and soups were also nearly fully thawed due to a power outage of unknown duration (we were out of town when the freezer/fridge lost power). My post was several weeks ago.

I am still alive after consuming numerous items...including hamburger, double pork chops, a whole chicken, and more. The brisket is last remaining item from this debacle still in the freezer. I took the advice from the responders after I posted, including cooking some of the questionable items and refreezing (like the hamburger meat) or cooking and consuming other items (like the pork chops). I primarily use the fridge for beer, other food items in the fridge were discarded. The beer was re-chilled and consumed.

I had performed several DIY repairs in the fridge, and it had moved from VA to GA to AL. It has been replaced by an $800 basic fridge/freezer. Life is good.
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