Another miss! At least we have easy-to-close hurricane shutters now instead of the kind you have to struggle to put up, while the wind threatens to blow one off a ladder, water trickles down the back of the neck, the battery in the cordless drill and screwdriver dies.... Read this vitally important guideline to food safety forwarded by Heidi Rosen, than a Tupperware manager.
How To Know What's Safe, Unsafe To EatA loss of refrigeration raises the potential for food poisoning after a hurricane. Before cooking, assess the safety of your food. Toss out any food that may have come in contact with floodwaters. When in doubt, throw it out. The young and the elderly are at the greatest risk for food poisoning, experts say.
If the food is still partially frozen, you can refreeze.
If thawed and held at room temperature for less than two hours, cook and serve, or cook and refreeze. Otherwise, discard.
Frozen Casseroles, Stews, Pies
If the food is still partially frozen, cook and serve immediately or refreeze. If thawed and held at room temperature for less than two hours, cook or reheat thoroughly and serve immediately. Otherwise, discard.
Frozen Vegetables, Fruits And Juices
If ice crystals are still intact, refreeze, but there may be some loss in flavor and texture. If thawed and held at room temperature for less than two hours, cook and serve. Juices can be refrozen. If thawed and held at room temperature for more than two hours, discard if there's a mold or yeast smell coming from the package.
Frozen Dairy Products
If the food is still partially frozen, cook and serve or refreeze. If thawed, discard.
Food kept in an unopened refrigerator for 24 hours is still cold and remains safe.
Milk: Discard if un refrigerated for more than two hours.
Fresh eggs: Safe un-refrigerated for five to seven days. Discard if shells are cracked or odor or discoloration is present.
Hard-boiled eggs: Discard if held at room temperature for more than two hours.
Hard cheese, butter, margarine: Safe un refrigerated if well wrapped. Discard if mold or rancid odor occurs.
Fruits and vegetables: Normally safe as long as they look acceptable. Discard if mold or yeast smell develops.
Fresh meats: Discard after two hours at room temperature.
Lunch meats/hot dogs: Discard after two hours at room temperature.
Opened mayonnaise: Discard after two hours un refrigerated because it is made with eggs. (Margarine is a better choice as a sandwich spread because of its longer shelf life.)
Eat canned goods within two hours after opening can. Bulging, rusty cans should be discarded.
Items In Refrigerator May Not Be Safe
There's yet another danger left behind by Hurricane Frances and it's lurking inside your kitchen. If you are in your fourth day without power and haven't had access to dry ice, it's time to toss many of the items in your refrigerator. "The refrigerator is the paramount concern in the kitchen at this point," said Barbara Hughes, Seminole County home extension agent.
If no outside air has been allowed in, food in a freezer remains frozen only for one to two days. Food stored in a closed refrigerator is safe for at least the first 24 hours. Food starts to spoil when the temperature rises above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Here is what must go, according to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences: raw or cooked meats, seafood, shellfish, dairy products, cooked and fresh pasta, deli salads, cheese-based pies, eggs, egg substitutes, luncheon meats, frozen pizzas, soft and semi soft, cheeses, casseroles, stews, cooked soups, garlic packaged in oil, condiments (mayonnaise, hoisin sauce, Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, creamy dressings, tartar sauce), refrigerator-cookie dough and cream-filled pastries. Open fruit juices at room temperature have probably started fermenting and should be tossed. If canned goods start to bulge, toss those out as well -- there may be a pinhole leak that is exposing the contents to air. In addition, discard anything that is moldy or has an unusual odor. Open containers of vinegar-based dressings, breads, breakfast foods (waffles, pancakes and bagels) are still fine but are best kept in a cooler with ice.
If your power is not restored soon, health and safety experts recommend restocking cupboards with citrus and apples and high-energy foods such as peanut butter, jelly, unsalted nuts and trail mix. Heat-and-serve canned vegetables and soups, canned fruits and meats (tuna, salmon and chicken) and smoked or dried meats such as jerky are good choices, as well."
Most people are not as cautious as they should be," Wilkins said. "A lot of residents grew up in a time when you saved everything. Under stress, it's even harder for them to throw things out. But the old adage remains true:
"When in doubt, throw it out."