Loss of Power and Flooding – some basic guidelines

We on Oahu got lucky with Lane not really affecting us, but really beat up Maui and Big Island. Kauai is still drying up from last spring. It is Hurricane season, and more storms could be heading our way.. This link https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2018/09/hundreds-of-pashas-customers-report-illnesses-some-positive-for-salmonella/ opens a story about a restaurant in Texas that lost its power for 2 days due to a lightning strike. When it reopened, in 2 days, over 250 people became ill before they closed back down.

As a general rule of thumb, if you lose power, with keeping the refrigerator doors closed, refrigerated foods are considered safe up to 4 hours, with frozen food being safe up to 24 hours. If you do not have power for longer than that, it really needs to be discarded. This pamphlet from the USDA http://files.constantcontact.com/56152773001/05871d2c-374c-4b98-848e-241095466acd.pdf has detailed info on what can be saved, what should be tossed, and has more details on the time limits for different foods. In buildings with emergency generators, all refrigeration units may not be hooked to the emergency system. Know which units are not, and move all foods to the powered coolers. Clean out and dry the units that will not have power, and leave the doors open to prevent a jungle of mold to develop.

Planning ahead when you hear a storm is coming is a great idea. Filling buckets with water, letting them freeze, and leaving in the freezer or refrigerator can help keep the temperatures at safe levels a little bit longer. When power comes back on, let the units stabilize before putting in fresh food.

Flooding is another frequent result of storms. Before a storm, move as much possible canned and dried goods as to be as high as possible if your storeroom is on ground level or below. If dried goods get wet – toss them. Cans and certain types of pouch packages have a procedure to clean and sanitize them, Twist tops, juice/milk boxes, pull tops and others cannot be properly sanitized, so they get tossed. More details are in the guideline.

Bottom line – if your power goes out, follow the Guideline – Don’t become a Headline!!

To learn more detail about Food Safety procedures, or to set up an independent discounted audit of your facility, please contact Peter Bellisario of PeterBFoodSafetyAudits.com at peter@peterbfoodsafety.com  or (808) 491-7766. Check out my website –  www.PeterBFoodsafety.com

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