No electricity for 36 hours. How do I tell if my food is still OK?
My electricity was out for about 36 hours which means the freezer and refrigerator lost power. All food in the freezer seemed to still be frozen after that time but how can I tell about food in the refrigerator?. I'm particularly concerned about dairy products and cheese. I also have some raw milk in glass bottles. Obviously I don't have a fridge thermometer and didn't open the door during the blackout to check anyway. The ambient room temp at the time of the blackout was about 70 degrees. It dropped to about 45 degrees during the night and rose to about 55 degrees the next day.
Here is a list from the USDA. Since you don't have a thermometer, how did the food in the fridge feel once the power went on? Did it still feel cold to the touch? If you have no idea, I'd toss food rather than go on a sniff or taste. I went through this once and then bought thermometers for my fridge and freezers.
When to Save and When to Throw It Out
FOOD Held above 40 °F for over 2 hours
MEAT, POULTRY, SEAFOOD
Raw or leftover cooked meat, poultry, fish, or seafood; soy meat substitutes
Thawing meat or poultry Discard
Meat, tuna, shrimp,chicken, or egg salad Discard
Gravy, stuffing, broth Discard
Lunchmeats, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, dried beef Discard
Pizza – with any topping Discard
Canned hams labeled "Keep Refrigerated" Discard
Canned meats and fish, opened Discard
Soft Cheeses: blue/bleu, Roquefort, Brie, Camembert, cottage, cream, Edam, Monterey Jack, ricotta, mozzarella, Muenster, Neufchatel, queso blanco, queso fresco
Hard Cheeses: Cheddar, Colby, Swiss, Parmesan, provolone, Romano Safe
Processed Cheeses Safe
Shredded Cheeses Discard
Low-fat Cheeses Discard
Grated Parmesan, Romano, or combination (in can or jar) Safe
Milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, evaporated milk, yogurt, eggnog, soy milk
Butter, margarine Safe
Baby formula, opened Discard
Fresh eggs, hard-cooked in shell, egg dishes, egg products
Custards and puddings Discard
CASSEROLES, SOUPS, STEWS Discard
Fresh fruits, cut
Fruit juices, opened Safe
Canned fruits, opened Safe
Fresh fruits, coconut, raisins, dried fruits, candied fruits, dates Safe
SAUCES, SPREADS, JAMS
Opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce, horseradish
Discard if above 50 °F for over 8 hrs.
Peanut butter Safe
Jelly, relish, taco sauce, mustard, catsup, olives, pickles Safe
Worcestershire, soy, barbecue, Hoisin sauces Safe
Fish sauces (oyster sauce) Discard
Opened vinegar-based dressings Safe
Opened creamy-based dressings Discard
Spaghetti sauce, opened jar Discard
BREAD, CAKES, COOKIES,PASTA, GRAINS
Bread, rolls, cakes, muffins, quick breads, tortillas
Refrigerator biscuits,rolls, cookie dough Discard
Cooked pasta, rice, potatoes Discard
Pasta salads with mayonnaise or vinaigrette Discard
Fresh pasta Discard
Breakfast foods –waffles, pancakes, bagels Safe
Pastries, cream filled
Pies – custard,cheese filled, or chiffon; quiche Discard
Pies, fruit Safe
Fresh mushrooms, herbs, spices
Greens, pre-cut, pre-washed, packaged Discard
Vegetables, raw Safe
Vegetables, cooked; tofu Discard
Vegetable juice, opened Discard
Baked potatoes Discard
Commercial garlic in oil Discard
Potato Salad Discard
I live in south Florida. Have been through 3 bad hurricanes since 2004.
Francis....No power for 7 days
Jeanne....No power for 11 days
Wilma......No power for 12 days.
My one suggestion is "Do not open the refrigerator anymore than you have to. Wait until the power comes on and see how it is then. It's like cooking a ham in a smoker. Every time you open the door you shorten the time by a few hours.
But please do not take any chances. I don't know how your insurance is but I included food loss to any damages I had. Good luck to you.
The thing I was most worried about was the raw milk (unpasteurized). I drank some after the power came back on. It passed the smell test. So far, I'm OK.
I never opened either the freezer or fridge the whole time and the freezer was packed to the gills. Everything stayed rock hard.