Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Sep 10, 2011 01:55 PM

power outage and food safety

I am pretty clear on what to keep and toss, but I do have a question about frozen food, Power went out at 11am Sunday and came back at 8pm Monday so a little under 36 hours. I have a big bag of Ling Lings pot stickers in the freezer. Do I need to toss? We were away when it happened so the freezer door was never opened at all.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. No need to toss the potstickers.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      How do you know that? We don't know what temp the freezer started at (mine was below zero) or what was in the potstickers, or if the freezer was packed tightly enough to retain the cold, or how hot a room it was in... for starters.

      1. re: mcf

        A freezer, unopened, will generally hold food frozen for 48 hours without power.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          I am going with this. I googled and it pertains to a full freezer. Half-full, it said 24 hours. I think we are in the clear and I really did not want to throw a huge Costco bags of Ling Lings away :o)

    2. It depends... my frozen food was still 31 degrees F after 3 1/2 days and icy since the freezer was very full and I added a LOT of bags of ice to fill it further. I refroze everything and nothing has made us ill... I also have a thermometer in there so I knew the temp. If you think it was probably at least half frozen due to being full and loaded with ice, I'd say yes, but if I had no idea or it wasn't, I'd toss.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mcf

        Even if things start melting in the freezer, you could simply cook the potstickers. When ice melts, it stays at 32F/0C until it completely turns to water. Only then will the temperature increase. In reality, a typical freezer is well insulated, so it should be cold for a while.

        If anything actually melted, the biggest problem would be the quality of the food, which may be affected by the refreezing process.

      2. For the future: Always keep an ice cube in a small glass jar (baby food), preferably metal-lidded, in the back of the freezer, and another one in the front or on the door. The reason for glass and metal is that plastic breathes so the cubes will shrink away over time if you don't replace them ofen. If temp exceeds freezing but drops back to correct levels before you can check, you will see that the cubes have melted and refrozen.

        That said, I KNOW the Ling Lings are fine. How? I overbought last winter so some of my Costco haul spent time in a cooler on the porch until freezer space became available. Though air temps were low, afternoon sun warmed the cooler more than I'd expected. The bag of Ling Lings was thawed and soggy when I found it. Still chilled. I cooked some right away (they tore as I separated them so not recommended) and refroze the rest, cooking them later from frozen, as is typical. No ill effects from either.

        5 Replies
        1. re: greygarious

          Doesn't it matter, when considering temps, whether the filling is meat/fish or vegetable?

          1. re: mcf

            Costco only carries the one kind of Ling Ling potstickers (chicken vegetable). As far as the ice cube test goes, if that's what you're asking, I'm not suggesting that it tells you what to save and what to pitch. The ice tells you whether or not the temp got higher than 32. What you do with that info is up to you.

            With predictions that Irene could hit us more directly than it did, two full days before I put large containers of water into the freezer. The morning of the storm, I put a couple of them into the refrigerator compartment and left 2 others in the freezer, which was quite full. Having, in effect, a block of ice in each compartment will help maintain safe refrigerator temps a while longer.
            I put the containers on the top shelves and had already moved the most perishable items to the lower rear of the fridge, since cold air sinks. As it happened, we lucked out and had only two 90 minute outages.

            1. re: greygarious

              I made tons of ice for two days prior to the storm, then bought some more when I could find it. Managed to keep the freezer filled with ice packing any space not filled with food. The ice cubes we mostly still frozen solid, just a bit of water, after 3 1/2 days, thankfully.

              I would not save pot stickers containing chicken if I didn't know what temp they'd been held at, personal priority.

            2. re: mcf

              Doesn't it matter, when considering temps, whether the filling is meat/fish or vegetable?


              1. re: ipsedixit

                I guess we have different priorities. I would never have kept the chicken in my freezer if I hadn't been able to verify the conditions and temps.

          2. Not really pertinent to the original poster but related in the sense of losing quantities of good food. Years ago when still living on eastern Long Island, NY we lost all power due to downed power lines from one of the hurricanes. We were the only house on the street without power for 9 days (LILCO reigned supreme but could not care less about one house). Needless to say the entire contents of the large chest freezer (6'x 3' in size). Nothing could maintain temps including dry ice. A painful experience food wise.