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Can I still eat the contents of my fridge and my freezer after a power outage?

A lot of people are afraid of getting food poisoning after a power failure. But a power cut does not automatically mean food wastage - far from it. Do not throw out the entire contents of your refrigerator. A power outage can last up to 6 hours without affecting the food in your fridge. For your freezer, this time can go up to as much as 48 hours without having any impact on your frozen food. That gives you plenty of time!

Your fridge

Always make sure your fridge temperature is between 0 and 4°. If it is, your food products will keep perfectly cool for 4 to 6 hours provided you don’t open the fridge door.
N.B. The better stocked your fridge, the longer your food products will keep fresh.

Things you can keep and things you should bin after 6 hours:

Keep Bin
Hard cheese, processed cheese                  Soft cheese, cream cheese
Butter, margarine Milk, cream, crème fraiche, yoghurt (opened)
Yoghurt Dishes and desserts prepared with raw eggs and cooked eggs

Vegetable juice (opened), fresh fruit juice, cooked vegetables (including soups), processed raw fruit and vegetables

Whole fresh fruit and vegetables Dishes and products prepared with meat, poultry, fish and seafood, whether raw or cooked
Pasteurised fruit juice All ready meals and leftovers

Your freezer

The temperature should go no higher than -18°. This will keep the foods frozen for 48 hours, as long as you do not open your freezer door and your freezer is properly stocked. Frozen foods keep each other cold, which helps them keep longer. Having said that, if the freezer is only half-stocked, the foods will remain frozen for 24 hours. 

Please note: if your freezer is a freezer compartment inside your fridge, these preservation times are shorter.

What to keep and what to bin:

For refreezing For quick consumption To be binned

Food products with the centre still hard

Blocks of hard cheese

Dishes and products prepared with meat, poultry, fish, seafood, dairy products, defrosted eggs...

Defrosted raw foods as long as their temperature did not exceed 4°, but only after you have been cooked them Bread, muffins, pastry without cream filling and defrosted fruit ...whether raw or cooked!

Here are a few tips and tricks to help you deal with a power failure:

  • Keep the fridge or freezer door closed to prevent warm air getting in.
  • Cover up your fridge and freezer with a blanket. This will help keep your foods cool for longer.
  • Even with very cold outdoor temperatures, we strongly advise against putting food products outside unless they are properly packed.
  • If you know in advance that the power outage is going to exceed 4h, we advise you to stuff your freezer with bottles of water and ice cube trays, snugly fitted up against the food products, before it starts.

Source: bulletin de l'Agence Fédérale pour la Sécurité de la Chaîne Alimentaire 

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