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Don't Let Perishables Perish During Power Outage

It was the pre-winter snowstorm of the century. And it happened right after you went to the grocery store and filled up your refrigerator, right? Many cities and towns in New York State might not have power for the next several days. Do you know how safe your refrigerated food will be if the power stays out? And for how long?

The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service says meat, poultry, fish and eggs should be refrigerated at 40° F and frozen food should be kept at or below 0° F. But if you don't have a generator, this might be tricky during a prolonged power outage.

Here are some tips to ensure your food remains edible during and after a power outage:

* A refrigerator will only keep food safely cold for about four hours if it is unopened, so keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.

* A full freezer will hold its temperature for approximately 48 hours if the door remains closed.

* Dry ice or block ice can keep your refrigerator as cold as possible if there is a prolonged power outage.

* Thermometers will help determine if your food is at a safe temperature. Refrigerator temperature should be 40°F or below and the freezer, 0°or lower.

* Do not taste food to determine its safety.

USDA has these additional weather-related food safety tips .

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