Power out? Some food in refrigerator should be thrown away

Posted January 23, 2016

Full refrigerator

In the wake of a winter storm that coated North Carolina in snow, sleet and ice, hundreds of thousands of people were stuck without power.

About 228,000 people had their power restored already, Gov. Pat McCrory said in a news conference on Saturday morning, but that still left more than 100,000 other people in the dark. While more than 6,000 people with Duke Energy crews across the state are working to turn the lights back on, food could be spoiling in powerless refrigerators.

Most food in the refrigerator should be safe as long as the power is out no more than four hours, according to the federal food safety website

The site recommends keeping the refrigerator door closed as much as possible to hold in the cold and to throw out any perishable food, such as meat, eggs and leftovers, that have been above 40 degrees for more than 2 hours.

If the clock ticks past the four hour threshold, each food item will have to be evaluated separately. has a chart to check each item and whether or not it should be thrown away.

Here are some of the foods that are safe and some that should be thrown out if they're held above 40 degrees for more than two hours:

Throw out

– Raw or leftover meat, poultry, seafood, soy meat substitutes

– Thawing meat or poultry

– Lunchmeats, hot dogs, bacon, sausage

– Soft cheeses, such as bleu cheese, brie, cottage, cream, mozzarella, muenster

– Milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, yogurt, soy milk


– Hard cheeses, such as cheddar, Colby, Swiss, parmesan, provolone, romano

– Peanut butter

– Jelly, relish, taco sauce, mustard, ketchup, olives, pickles

– Bread, rolls, cakes, muffins, tortillas

– Waffles, pancakes, bagels

– Raw vegetables

For the full list, visit


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  • Fanny Chmelar Jan 23, 2016
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    In my previous house, we had a screened in porch with a cat door in the window. When we'd lose power during winter storms, we'd put a cooler outside, below the window, and would just reach out and grab what we needed.

    I grew up in the north and during the winter we'd use the garage as an extra "refrigerator" for non-perishable items like beer and other drinks. Kept the liquor out there, too!

  • Charles Edwards Jan 23, 2016
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    Considering how cold it is outside, if your power goes out, put your food in a protected area outside away from animals. My screened-in back porch at 30 degrees will do just fine.