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What to toss after a power outage?

I just got my power back after 5 days here in CT and while the contents of the freezer remained solid, my refridgerator came up to room temperature which was 48-50 degrees. I am going to be in clean-up mode this weekend and I am wondering what has to be thrown out.

Do I really need to toss everything? Can I keep my eggs, ketchup, sricha, milk and jelly? Does anyone have a good source of info on this?

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  1. There's another thread about ketchup - it will be ok, as will the sricha but I would toss the milk. I don't refrigerate eggs but I think different 'rules' apply in the US (I am in the UK). I would mainly rely on the smell test, if it smells bad, chuck it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pj26

      When in doubt....throw it out.........

    2. Yep, when in doubt, throw it out! Definitely toss the milk!! I'd toss the eggs, too. As for condiments with vinegar or high sugar content, I wouldn't worry about those.

      3 Replies
      1. re: wyogal

        absolutely no need to toss the eggs - they don't require refrigeration to begin with.

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          "Why should eggs be refrigerated?
          Temperature fluctuation is critical to safety. With the concern about Salmonella, eggs gathered from laying hens should be refrigerated as soon as possible. After eggs are refrigerated, they need to stay that way. A cold egg left out at room temperature can sweat, facilitating the movement of bacteria into the egg and increasing the growth of bacteria. Refrigerated eggs should not be left out more than 2 hours."

          1. re: wyogal

            to each her own. for years i've been buying refrigerated eggs from the store and keeping them out on the counter, and i'm still here to talk about it. some earlier CH discussion/debate about it if you're interested:

            i think they key point in your quote from the USDA is the comment about Salmonella. if your eggs are from a reputable source, it's not much of a concern, and if the eggs are cooked properly, you kill the Salmonella.

      2. what osprey said....do NOT screw around with this! How come you're tossing stuff now? Pretty sure it all went bad by Monday

        5 Replies
        1. re: BiscuitBoy

          She said she just got her power back. She's probably had more pressing things to deal with the last few days in that case.

          1. re: writergeek313

            yeah, so did I, still do...a stanky, fanky fridge&freezer came real close to the top of my list

            1. re: BiscuitBoy

              I think it would be impossible for a fridge to become stanky, fanky in a day and a half and to be perfectly honest, it was more important to deal with the trees across the driveway and heating issues than a few spoiled items in my fridge.

              Thanks so much for your input.

          2. re: BiscuitBoy

            Without knowing everything in the fridge, I wouldn't say it would ALL go bad, there is a few threads on this board around keeping things in the fridge, and some of the time it's not always necessary e.g. jams, dressings (unless they are egg based), chutneys, relishes etc would be ok, even some veges that may have been kept in the fridge could be fine - tossing everything is just wasteful.

            1. re: pj26

              Thanks PJ26, this is pretty much along the lines of what I was thinking.

          3. When my fridge broke a few weeks ago I threw out everything except for condiments.

            1. My power in MA was out 107 hours, returning Thursday morning. The house temp hovered around 50 degrees. I did not open the fridge AT ALL during those long, cold hours. The freezer compartment was 90% packed. The fridge compartment was pretty full too, mostly with condiments and winter vegetables. To my great relief, I didn't lose anything. The opened-last-Wednesday half&half was sour but would have been anyway. The roast chicken and stuffing, made last Wednesday, still smelled fine (I have now put it in the freezer). Yesterday I ate the crab spread and two different home-made soups, one sausage/cabbage/apple, the other chicken/corn/cheese/barley. They tasted fine and I have had no GI upset. I am frugal, and a big believer in keeping the immune system challenged, so I regularly consume on-the-verge-of-spoilt foods. Though I think this gives me an edge, the fridge contents this time were not even close to that precipice. As for the freezer, ice cubes were only slightly melting. A small container of juice at the front was thawed but cold. The raw meats were all far back in the compartment and surronded by bagged veggies and cooked foods so I will not hesitate to thaw and use the re-frozen contents. The meat might suffer a bit in texture but will not be unsafe.

              1 Reply
              1. re: greygarious

                The "smell test" is not reliable. And frugality has nothing to do with safety issues.

              2. The eggs really should be fine since they don't need to be refrigerated. The condiments should be fine except I'd toss mayo just to be safe. Milk I'd toss.

                2 Replies
                1. re: rasputina

                  Good time to completely clean and sanitize the ol' fridge., as I mentioned, my personal/professional preference is to throw it all out. When we had a power failure in our biz, (hurricane), the health dept. came and condemned all the cooler stocks(gave us a receipt for the losses lol), the freezer items wee still below 32*F.Walk in Coolers got to a temp. of 51*F and the walk in freezers just above 24*F. Everything in any undercounter refrigerators/ salad stations/prep units was tossed too.

                  1. re: ospreycove

                    Agree. Just got power back in the wee hours this morning. WHEEEE! My fridge and freezer are (practically) empty and spiff spiff, ready to be restocked! The butter was packed in a cooler of snow, so that made it through, but pretty much anything else that could be remotely questionable is OUT, OUT, OUT and that was DAYS ago so it could be picked up on trash day. Kinda cathartic, chucking everything and having a fresh start. Cheers!

                2. http://www.northjersey.com/food_dinin...

                  the sriracha & jelly are fine. and PLEASE don't toss the eggs. they don't even need to be refrigerated in the first place and will be good for weeks beyond the date stamped on the carton.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    Thanks for the northjersey link, it had some helpful information. I was particularly wondering about the pickles and olives and the article stated that those items should be good to keep.

                  2. oh, and a tip for next time (i'm being realistic, not pessimistic)...if it looks like the power is going to be out for quite some time, grab some heavy-duty garbage bags or plastic bins and load them up with the perishables that you can eat without needing power to prepare them. i had JUST stocked up on deli meats, cheese, produce, and multiples of cottage cheese, milk, and large tubs of Greek & goat's milk yogurt the day before we lost power. i kept it all outside nestled in the snow, we noshed on some of it while we were stuck here without a way to prepare meals, and about 48 hours later when we got our generator running again, everything that was left was all still perfectly cold & safe when i put it back in the fridge.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      That's great if you have snowpack. Here the 3 inches that fell was melted by Sunday afternoon and the daytime temps (outdoors and in) were in the 40's and 50's. I was cursing myself for not at least prepared thermoses of boiling water but the snow/rain line was iffy and it looked like we were in for all rain. Snow did not begin until after dark and I did not notice until shortly before the power failed. This was very much an issue of insufficient tree pruning.

                      Nonetheless, here I am 22 hours after power returned, having had 4 meals of food from my heroic refrigerator, which safeguarded its contents against all odds. Nary a blip of gastrointestinal distress.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        I also heard a tip to fill plastic baggies with snow and place them in the fridge to keep the temp down. Unfortunately, it was a little late to help me, but I am storing the suggestion for next time.

                        1. re: NE_Elaine

                          Now that's a good tip, which never occurred to me. (Faceplant) It should have, since I keep water-filled jugs in the freezer in summer, in anticipation of outages, and when they seem certain, I do extra and move a couple from freezer to fridge just before a bad storm arrives.

                      2. Why would you even contemplate tossing things like ketchup, eggs and sriracha? None of those things need refrigeration.

                        And given how how cold it has been in the NE, I'd imagine the jelly is more than perfectly fine.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Actually from what I have read, it seems like most of the contents of my fridge will be safe. I have a couple older dressings that will be tossed and some lunch meat, but all in all, the damage is not too bad.

                          1. re: NE_Elaine

                            Listeria is not your friend. With a 25% case fatality rate; you maybe well served to keep foods chilled at 39.2*F or below,(U of F Med School), in order to retard cell,bacteria, growth. Good sanitation is essential for the prevention of infection. So after a power failure and your food stocks get over 39*F the pathogens start to multiply, the warmer your food gets the faster the bacteria multiplies. Throw out the contents and scrub, sanitize, the refrigerator is sound advice!

                            1. re: ospreycove


                              Let's not go overboard. Listeria affects primarily pregnant women, newborns, adults with weakened immune systems, and the elderly.

                        2. Would you rather spend $20 to buy more ketchup, milk, egg and siracha sauce or would you rather spend the day possibly puking your guts out because you ate something that had spoiled?

                          I received food poisoning 2 weekends ago from a cafe that served something in my egg scramble that had gone off. I spent most of that weekend being violently ill and unable to eat anything, until Sunday night when I managed some toast. I'd rather spend the extra $20, wouldn't you?

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: SeoulQueen

                            Yes, indeed, I would! APPLAUSE! +1

                            1. re: kattyeyes

                              ipse..... Listeria is just one example of the pathogens that thrive in improperly chilled/stored foodstuffs. The total number of the population that are "primarily affected", pregnant women, newborns,adults w/compromised immune systems, and the elderly; seems like a fairly significant "market" for the bacteria.

                            2. re: SeoulQueen

                              So, to the OP's question, one of the items we may toss after a power outage is our cookies?