If you’re among the thousands of Elkhart County residents still without power after Tuesday’s storms, you may be wondering what to do about the food in your refrigerator.
The Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture gives these recommendations about when to throw away perishable food after a power outage:
You can check the temperature of your food with a probe thermometer, according to Mike Hoover of the Elkhart County Health Department.
He noted that putting a thermometer inside your fridge or freezer only checks the temperature of the air. To really get a good idea of the temperature of your food, actually test the food itself.
“The danger zone is if food is above 41 degrees and below 135 degrees for more than four hours, you do not want to use it, you want to discard it,” he said.
Hoover also cautioned not to rely on how cold the food feels to the touch.
If your refrigerator or freezer has been off for a while, Hoover suggested putting bagged or dry ice inside inside to keep food colder longer.
The decision to throw out food is a personal one, he added, but if you’re in doubt at all it’s best to get rid of a food item that could potentially make you sick.