The Legal Examiner Affiliate Network The Legal Examiner The Legal Examiner The Legal Examiner search feed instagram google-plus avvo phone envelope checkmark mail-reply spinner error close
Skip to main content
Refrigerator thermometer spoilage area macro detail
Grewal Law, PLLC
(855) 610-0503

Over the last several weeks, many areas of the country have experienced severe weather that has caused loss of power to residences and businesses.  Extended power outages – more than a few hours – can cause food to spoil.  In some cases, victims may not even be aware of a power outage or how long the outage lasted.

According to the USDA, food in your refrigerator will remain safe for up to four hours if the door is kept closed.  A freezer can keep food safe for between 24-48 hours if the door is kept closed.  Do not sample food to see if it has been contaminated – when in doubt, throw it out.

According to the CDC, there are over 250 types of foodborne illness, generally caused by bacteria or parasites.  It estimates that about 128,000 people are hospitalized due to food poisoning each year in America.  Symptoms usually include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain.  The severity of the symptoms can vary greatly, but certain contaminants (such as botulism, listeria, and E. coli) can cause more serious illness than others.

In the event of a power outage, keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed.  If the power is out for four hours or longer, consult the USDA website for guidance on disposing of potentially spoiled food.

Comments for this article are closed, but you may still contact the author privately.