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How to save your food in a power outage

Thursday - 2/13/2014, 8:32am  ET

WASHINGTON -- A power outage can be expensive, depending on how much perishable food you have to lose.

Food in your fridge must stay below 40 degrees for it to be safe to eat, according to the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

So if the power goes out, every time you sneak into the fridge for a yogurt or a cold drink - even if you close the door quickly - you could be letting out precious air. If you keep your fridge closed, the food inside it will hold for four hours, according to the USDA website.

If your freezer is full, the food will last for 2 days. A half-full freezer will hold for one day.

Put perishable food in a cooler and pour ice on it, or secure it and put it outside, to keep your food and the money you spent from going to waste.

Look up specific temperatures for food safety and get common questions answered on the USDA's food safety page.

Watch the USDA video here:

The agency suggests following these steps in a weather emergency:

  • Check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40F for two hours or more.
  • Check each item separately. Throw out any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture or feels warm to the touch.
  • Check frozen food for ice crystals. The food in your freezer that partially or completely thawed may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40 degrees or below.
  • Never taste food to decide whether it's safe.
  • When in doubt, throw it out.

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