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Power outages: Food safety tips

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With Boston in the middle of a severe winter storm, the electric companies have been warning of possible power outages in the area due to high winds. If you find yourself without power, do you know the proper precautions to take for food safety?

A thermometer is something you should have on hand. Knowing what the temperature in your refrigerator is will help you determine what you can keep once the power comes back on. If your power goes out, your food can keep for up to four hours in the refrigerator if you don't open your fridge or freezer. The temperature should be at 40 degrees or colder.

If the power is out for four hours or less, check the temperature once the power is restored. If the temperature in the freezer is 40 degrees or colder, your food will be safe to refreeze or cook. If you do not keep an appliance thermometer in your freezer, check each item to be sure it hasn't thawed. If the food is at 40 degrees or less, or if there are still ice crystals present; you can safely refreeze or cook your food. Foods from the refrigerator should be safe provided you kept the door closed and the power wasn't out any longer than four hours.

If you have any question about your perishable foods, do the safe thing and toss it out. If the food has been in temperatures above 40 degrees for more than two hours, get rid of it. If it seems like the power may be out for an extended period, put your food in coolers with ice.

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