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Food Safety Guidelines for Severe WeatherContact: Jennifer Holton 517-241-2485
March 29, 2012
LANSING- As part of Severe Weather Awareness Week, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Food and Dairy Division Director Kevin Besey is reminding Michigan residents to use food safety precautions during or after severe weather incidents or power outages.
"Spring may bring warm weather, but it also brings thunderstorms, wind storms, floods, and tornadoes. It is important to keep some basic food safety precautions in mind during and after power outages when these severe weather events occur," Besey said.
Drink only approved or chlorinated water in areas or regions that have sustained damage from tornadoes or any other serious storms.
Water from wells, cisterns and other delivery systems in the area should be considered unsafe until tested. Foods should be examined and items containing particles of glass or debris or cans with broken seams should be discarded.
"Residents should pay attention to the drinkability of tap water; and the safety of canned foods, foods that were near a window or doorway, and food in refrigerators or freezers," Besey said.
If your refrigerator loses power, keep the internal temperature cold by opening refrigerator doors only when absolutely necessary. A full, freestanding freezer will stay at freezing temperatures about two days; a half-full freezer about one day. If your freezer is not full, packages should be grouped together to form an "igloo" protecting each other.
Dry ice can be used if power is out several days. Twenty-five pounds of dry ice should keep a 10-cubic foot full freezer cold for three to four days.
Refrigerated foods are generally safe if power has not been out for more than a few hours and the doors have been kept closed. Potentially hazardous foods (meats, fish, poultry, all dairy products, all eggs and egg products, soft cheeses, custards, puddings, and cooked beans, rice, potatoes, pasta, and potato/pasta/macaroni salads, etc.) should be discarded if they are thawed and kept at temperatures warmer than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Discard anything that becomes moldy, discolored, or has an unusual odor. Remember, "When in doubt, throw it out."
Additional food safety tips can be obtained by contacting your local Michigan State University Extension office; visiting www.michigan.gov/mdard, www.fightbac.org, or www.foodsafety.gov; or by calling toll-free the U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry Hotline at (888) 674-6854 or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Food Information Line at (888) SAFE-FOOD.
For more information on planning for severe weather impacts and the agricultural sector, the All-Hazards Preparedness for Rural Communities guide is available at www.prep4agthreats.org.
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