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So, after Hurricane Sandy...my refrigerator?

f
Fida Nov 6, 2012 08:09 AM

Just returned to town, and my refrigerator was presumably off during the power outage, around four days. Luckily, I had no meat in my freezer. But could frozen vegetables, thawed and re-frozen, still be used?

A friend said that she'd kept her refrigerator closed except for one lightning-quick opening a day, and it stayed cold.

  1. a
    asf78 Nov 7, 2012 02:32 PM

    Toss everything, even vegetables. If you have bread or cake, it MIGHT be okay.

    You have no idea how long food may have been above 40 degrees, even inside your fridge or freezer, even if it "feels" cold - you can't know exactly how cold it really is. It doesn't not take long for invisible bacteria to grow, and some forms of food poisoning really can kill (listeria, e. coli, others), while others can make you really, really sick. Is it worth the risk? Only you can decide, but the safest would be to throw it away.

    As one person suggested, photography the contents - your insurance company may cover the losses.

    1. k
      kseiverd Nov 7, 2012 01:59 PM

      Lost power due to Sandy for a little over 24 hours... was VERY LUCKY!! Stuff in freezer didn't even remotely start to thaw. Fridge wasn't COLD but definitely cold after a full day with rare opening.

      When original fridge/freezer died several years ago... dodn't realize until ice was SLOSHING?!? Food in freezer was probably 85-90% solid... was able to stash meat in neighbors freezer in his garage... never even thought of tossing it. Lived outta coolers for about a week before new fridge/freezer was delivered and hooked up.... milk, mayo, butter, etc. Many "condiments" just sat out on counter... and never killed me later.

      I don't freak over thawing/freezing stuff, but would probably just toss!?!

      1. ttoommyy Nov 7, 2012 12:19 PM

        I tossed everything. Figured it was God's way of saying "start over." :)

        1 Reply
        1. re: ttoommyy
          ttoommyy Nov 7, 2012 02:27 PM

          "I tossed everything. Figured it was God's way of saying "start over." :)"

          Forgot to say that we lost power for 8 days, so I was tossing food day by day after the 4th day or so. That's why I eventually tossed everything, to include bottled condiments.

        2. PattiCakes Nov 7, 2012 12:13 PM

          My inclination would be to chuck it. If you have other damage that is reportable to your insurance carrier, you might want to take pictures of the contents of the fridge/freezer and see if you can add that to your claim. If you were claiming just the loss of the food, your deductible would be more than the reimbursable value of that food, but if you are adding the value of the food to a claim for more substantial losses, you might get some compensation for it at least. That was the case for my daughter. Stuff in her chest freezer was OK after 3+ days of no electric (freezer was packed to the gills, and she never opned it), but stuff in the fridge was not. She had property damage from fallen trees as well. They gave her a little over $100 to compensate for the loss of the food in the fridge & fridge's freezer. At least it was something. The biggest loss in the little freezer was the loss of 30 or so packs of frozen breast milk for her 1 month old -- no way to compensate for that!

          1. a
            ahuva Nov 6, 2012 08:11 PM

            same sitch by me - power out from monday night 'til thursday night. everything in the freezer stayed cold - a friend in the food business told me that so long as it's still cold food can be refrozen

            1. jw615 Nov 6, 2012 07:23 PM

              Is there anything in your freezer that you can use as a gauge to see how much things thawed out.

              Several years ago, the remnants of a hurricane came through the area of Ohio where I live in the form of a serious windstorm. I lived in a very rural area and was without power for four and a half days. I was able to keep everything that was in my freezer - but I judged this because I had popsicles and they were still frozen in their original shapes. Also, my freezer was FULL, which probably helped quite a bit. I didn't open it once in the entire four days.

              1. TroyTempest Nov 6, 2012 06:34 PM

                Given what your Friend said, I'd use them.

                1. greygarious Nov 6, 2012 11:21 AM

                  As I have posted on other threads, for future reference: put an ice cube in a tightly sealed jar and keep it in your freezer (I do one in the door and one at the back). You'll be able to tell if it melted and refroze.

                  My freezer was quite full when last year's Halloween blizzard hit. I did not open either the fridge or freezer compartments at all. Power was out 104 hours. I lost nothing but open half and half that would have been bad by then anyway. Some of the freezer contents partially thawed and then refroze. Everything - including raw meat, frozen vegetables, and frozen cooked foods - was fine when eaten. In anticipation of a possible outage, I had filled containers with water a couple of days earlier, and froze them. Early in the day when the storm was coming, I prepared a cooler with minimally perishable frozen and refrigerated food, and an ice block container. I moved some of the ice containers to the fridge, along with frozen applesauce and a couple other things that would stay frozen a good while, and replaced the space with more containers of water to freeze.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: greygarious
                    TroyTempest Nov 6, 2012 12:32 PM

                    the ice cube idea is a great idea. I'm going to have to tell my old friends on the Gulf coast to try that next time they leave for a hurricane.

                    1. re: greygarious
                      LindaWhit Nov 6, 2012 01:31 PM

                      Love the ice cube idea. Thanks!

                      1. re: greygarious
                        boyzoma Nov 6, 2012 01:42 PM

                        The ice cube is a wonderful idea. We don't have too many long term outages here, but it is a good one to keep on hand. You never know. We lost power one Thanksgiving due to a squirrel that decided to commit suicide with the local transformer! So much for cooking the turkey!

                        1. re: greygarious
                          mcap Nov 7, 2012 10:48 AM

                          I did the same thing re: filling up containers of water before the storm hit. I made 6 large ziplock bags filled with pre-made ice cubes and filled six other ziplocks with water and froze all of them in the days leading up to Sandy.

                          We lost power for 4 days, but after Day 2 had a the fridge/freezer hooked up to a generator. But with all that ice in the freezer (and then some moved to the fridge) everything stayed frozen and very cold for those 2 days.

                        2. v
                          valerie Nov 6, 2012 10:52 AM

                          Our power was out for 7 days. By day 4, I tossed everything from both freezers. Except...I was not willing to give up on the pesto that I had been making in batches all summer! It was frozen in small Foodsaver bags. I moved them to a cooler with blocks of ice that I still had and then I was able to transport it to a friend's house who had power. It's back in my freezer now and who knows, when I pull out a batch in a few weeks, it might taste awful and then I will chuck it....but I had to try to save it!

                          All else can be replaced. On Day 4, the frozen vegetables, french fries and various other items were definitely defrosted. The thought of eating them after being re-frozen is unappealing and just not worth it.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: valerie
                            c
                            chocolatetartguy Nov 7, 2012 12:25 PM

                            Funny, the one thing I couldn't toss when my freezer started failing were the frozen boysenberries. Everything else got tossed including some expensive beef shanks from a boutique butcher. I really wanted the berries to be OK, but did dump them eventually after they froze and defrosted several times.

                          2. tcamp Nov 6, 2012 10:04 AM

                            I'd investigate further before tossing them. Thaw a few - what is the smell and texture? It sounds as though your power was back on when you got home and the items have refrozen. I'd maybe try to use them up sooner rather than later. Casserole type preparations where they get fully cooked should mitigated texture issues.

                            1. arashall Nov 6, 2012 08:24 AM

                              I'd say that if it's vegatables, and they don't smell bad, but have thawed, and you have access to any means of cooking (gas grill?), then cook them now and feed them to the neighbors and helpers. That's what we did during Ike. However, we didn't leave completely, so we just worked our way through things as they thawed, in order of most perishable and had neighborhood meals. It may be too late for that in your case. Like the others, we are sorry for your troubles! In Houston, we feel your pain, and you're in our thoughts and prayers!

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: arashall
                                Davwud Nov 6, 2012 10:05 AM

                                That's right, poison the people there to help you!!

                                LOL

                                DT

                                1. re: Davwud
                                  kattyeyes Nov 6, 2012 10:09 AM

                                  HA HA HA, I was thinking the same!

                                  When in doubt, THROW IT OUT! Defrosted and refrozen food does NOT sound like a good idea.

                                  I tossed a few bags of vegetables in our recent power outage. After throwing out a LARGE QUANTITY of food last year in our freak October storm, I now buy as I need things for the most part. It was much less painful throwing out just a few things this round.

                                  1. re: kattyeyes
                                    arashall Nov 6, 2012 11:28 AM

                                    Your circumstances may have been a little more forgiving than ours, and posssibly those of Fida. If the roads are blocked, and the grocery store is empty anyway, and there's no power (15 days in my case), you start figuring out what can still be eaten, and nobody is too picky.

                              2. monavano Nov 6, 2012 08:18 AM

                                i'd leave nothing to chance and toss it all. That's me. I'd rather lose the money and have peace of mind.
                                Always sad to have to clear out the whole fridge, so sorry for the losses ;-(

                                1. Davwud Nov 6, 2012 08:13 AM

                                  Not really worth taking a chance.

                                  DT

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