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Food safety during a power outage


When in doubt, throw it out.


Freezing stops the growth of bacteria. Do not open the refrigerator or freezer door, unless absolutely necessary, in order to maintain the cold temperature.

  • A full freezer will keep food frozen for about 48 hours. A freezer that is half full will keep food frozen for about 24 hours.
  • An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours.
  • If available, add ice to the refrigerator to keep the food at a safe temperature if the power will be out for long periods of time.

If storing your food outside in the winter, be sure to keep it away from the sunlight and animals.

If you know that a power failure will last for a long period of time, see if you can take the food to a friend nearby who has power.


Handling refrigerated and frozen food after a power failure


Discard any food that has been at room temperature for two or more hours, as well as any food that has an obvious unusual colour or odour. Keep in mind that food contaminated with bacteria does not necessarily smell bad or appear spoiled.

Food that still contains ice crystals or feels refrigerator-cold can be re-frozen.

If raw food has leaked during thawing, clean and disinfect the areas the food has touched. Do not reuse the cloths you have used for clean-up until they have been cleaned and disinfected.

-Adapted from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency