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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May. 5, 2003, 3 p.m.
CONTACT: Tanya Allen, Acting Emergency Manager, (816) 889-1426

Tips for keeping food safe at home during a power outage

A full freezer of food will stay frozen for about two days, and a half-full freezer will stay frozen for about one day. Keep the door closed as much as possible to conserve the cold.

If the power is estimated to be off longer than one to two days, try to locate dry or block ice to place in the freezer. Place block ice in a container in the freezer’s compartment to contain any water as it melts. Dry ice can keep food frozen for two to four days depending on relevant conditions. Refrigerated foods should be safe as long as power is not out more than four hours.

Perishable refrigerated foods that have been above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours should be discarded. Foods such as meat, poultry, seafood, soft cheeses, low fat cheeses, dairy products, creamy dressings, eggs, egg products, cooked pastas, casseroles, soups, cut fruit and vegetables need to be discarded. Foods such as hard cheese, processed cheese, butter, margarine, peanut butter, jelly, whole fruit, vegetables, and vinegar-based dressings are safe. Remember, “when in doubt throw them out. Please call the Kansas City Health Department at 513-6315 for more clarification. Food in the freezer may be safely re-frozen, if when power is restored, the food contains ice crystals or is at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. As food thaws, separate raw meat products from other items by placing them in a pan or sealed container..”

Buy 25 pounds of dry ice to keep a 10 cubic-foot freezer full of food safe three to four days; half-full, two to three days. A full 18 cubic-foot freezer requires 50 to 100 pounds of dry ice to keep food safe two days; half-full, less than two days. The temperature of dry ice is -216 degrees Fahrenheit; therefore, it may cause freezer burn on items located near or touching it. Separate dry ice from the food with a piece of cardboard.

Throw out all perishable food items. The Environmental Management Department will collect spoiled food during regular trash collection times. Please call them at 513-3490 for more information.

Citizens of Kansas City, Mo., who suspect that a restaurant or other retail food establishment is operating in an unhealthy manner are encouraged to contact the Health Department at (816) 513-6315.

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