How long does refrigerator food keep after an outage?

As we well know, a little rain, some wind a downed power line can leave us in the dark for hours - so here's a question. How long can all your food stay fresh in the fridge when there's no power?

When the lights go dim and you're searching for a flashlight, but do you keep track of how many hours the food has been in the refrigerator?

According to Lindsay Malone, a registered dietician at Cleveland Clinic, the amount of time your food has before it goes bad during an outage might be shorter than you think.

"As long as the time is less than four hours, the food inside your refrigerator should be okay. For the freezer it's more like 24 hours," she says.

Malone says the most important thing you can do to try to salvage your food during an outage is to keep the refrigerator door closed as much as possible.

For food in the freezer, it might last a little longer, closer to 48 hours if it's packed tightly.

If you know it's going to be more than four hours before your power is restored, you can try moving refrigerated items to the freezer to keep them cooler longer. It's also a good idea to check your fridge thermometer to see how much chill you're losing.

Items such as milk and raw meat will spoil quicker than most, so it's especially important to adhere to the four-hour rule with these.

She says it's harmful to eat foods that have developed bacteria, so a good rule of thumb is 'when in doubt, throw it out.'

"Some people will experience some mild symptoms like nausea, vomiting, but in more severe cases if bacteria has been growing for a while or if you have someone with a sensitive immune system, very young, very old, a compromised immune system, like someone undergoing cancer treatment, the effects could be more severe," she says.

The United States Department of Agriculture has a food safety section on their website where you can search specific foods to find out more information about when it's time to throw them out. CLICK HERE 

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