Tips on what to do with food during and following power outages from Iowa State Extension Service:
When the power goes out
Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as is possible
Refrigerator will keep foods cold for 4 hours or so/ freezer will hold for around 48 hours if full 24 for half full.
If prolonged then procure dry ice. 50 lbs/18 cu ft.
Do not put food out on the snow – sun may cause warming
Once power is restored
Check temps in freezer and refrigerator – if above 40 then you need to take action with respect to how long they were above 40. Stick a thermometer into a food item and determine what it temperature is.
For frozen foods look for ice crystals and temperature
Discard perishables such as meat poultry leftovers
Do Not Refreeze
Food that has thawed completely — especially meat, poultry and seafood
Prepared, cooked foods such as pizza, casseroles and stew
Any food that has poor or questionable color or odor
Creamed foods, puddings or other low-acid foods that have thawed
Melted ice cream
Safe To Refreeze
Foods that still contain ice crystals
Thawed fruit if it still tastes and smells good
Bread, cake, cookies, plain doughnuts
Nuts, flour, cereal
Raw meat and poultry that has thawed but is still cold (40°F or less can be refrozen raw or cooked thoroughly and refrozen
For more information,
Download “When the Home Freezer Stops” – PM 1367 (pdf)
Contact Answer Line, toll-free at 1-800-262-3804, Monday – Friday, 9a.m. – noon and 1 – 4 p.m.
Check out the emergency preparedness section of the Food Safety Project Web site