Preventing Foodborne Illness
Every year, an estimated 48 million Americans get sick because of foodborne illness, and about 3,000 people die from it. But those numbers could be lowered if people heeded the “two-hour food rule.”
Basically, food that is exposed to the open air for longer than two hours will grow bacteria to harmful levels. So, at a party or picnic—or wherever you serve food—keep track of the amount of time the food has been out of the refrigerator or oven. And after two hours, wrap the food properly, and put it in the refrigerator or freezer.
Also, when a platter is empty (or almost empty) and you want to refill it, DO NOT just dump new food on top of the old food—in fact, don’t even put new food on the empty-but-used platter. Each time you want to set out new food, wash the platter before you refill it, or serve the new food on another clean platter.
How Long Does Food Last in a Power Outage?
During a power outage, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors shut. If you can determine when the power outage began (check a clock that runs on electricity), you can figure out how long the food will be good. As a general rule...
Food kept cold in an unopened refrigerator will last about 4 hours.
Food in a full, unopened freezer will stay frozen for about 48 hours.
Food in a semi-full, unopened freezer will stay frozen for up to 24 hours.