In the case of an electrical outage, it is important to be careful to ensure food safety. Discard any food that has been at room temperature for two hours or more, and any food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture.
Remember, when in doubt, throw it out!
The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) urges residents to practice safe food handling and to prevent food-borne illness by following these simple steps:
- A full cooler will maintain its cold temperature longer than one that is partially filled, so it is important to pack plenty of extra ice or freezer packs to ensure a constant cold temperature. If available, 25 pounds of dry ice will keep a 10-cubic-foot freezer below freezing for 3-4 days. Use care when handling dry ice, and wear dry, heavy gloves to avoid injury.
- Thawed food can usually be eaten if it is still “refrigerator cold,” or re-frozen if it still contains ice crystals.
- Eggs and other foods need to be stored at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or slightly below. Do not eat foods that may have spoiled.
- Thoroughly wash your hands before preparing or eating food, after using the bathroom or changing a diaper, after handling uncooked food, after playing with a pet, after handling garbage, after tending to someone who is sick or injured, after blowing your nose, and after coughing or sneezing.
- Fight “cross-contamination,” the transfer of harmful bacteria to food from other foods, cutting boards or utensils. Never place any type of food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood.
- When grilling foods, preheat the coals on your grill for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the coals are lightly coated with ash. Use a meat thermometer to ensure that food reaches a safe internal temperature.
- Hamburgers and ground poultry should be cooked to 160o F.
- Poultry parts: 170° F.
- Roasts, steaks and other large cuts of beef: 145° F. (rare) and 160o F (medium).
- Fish – should be cooked until the meat is opaque and flakes easily.
- Remember your pets! Use sanitized food and water bowls for your pets and make sure that they do not drink from flood-contaminated surfaces.
For more information on hurricane preparedness and safety, the public can call the MSDH toll-free at 1-866-HLTHY4U (1-866-458-4948) or visit www.HealthyMS.com.