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Community

2 March, 2021

Food safety during loss of electricity

Due to widespread power outages associated with Tropical Cyclone Niran, Council advises the community to follow safe methods for food storage when power is lost to prevent a food-borne illness.


Residents should:

  • Ensure all refrigerated food items are stored at a temperature of 5°C or below.  It is recommended that you not consume any product that has exceeded this temperature.
  • During a power shortage or blackout, minimise the number of times the refrigerator door is opened. If power is to be disconnected for some time, place refrigerated items in the freezer. If freezer blocks are available, place them below food items to maximise the temperature below 5°C.
  • A refrigerator with door seals in a good condition can keep your food cold for around 4 to 6 hours (dependent how often the door is opened, size of the refrigerator, room temperature and temperature of food before power went out).
  • A full freezer with door seals in a good condition should keep food frozen for up to 48 hours, while a half full freezer with door seals in a good condition should keep your food frozen for up to 24 hours (dependent how often the door is opened, size of the freezer, room temperature and temperature of food before power went out).
  • Do not refreeze thawed items.
  • Ensure all food is protected from contamination and pests. Cover all food items and store in a manner that prevents cross-contamination (eg, separate all raw meats from ready-to-eat food items).
  • Inspect food products to ensure that they have not been contaminated or show any signs of damage from vermin or other pests.
  • Wash hands prior to handling food and equipment used to handle food.
  • Ensure all items used to handle food items are clean.

Additional actions and considerations for businesses

  • Note the time when the power supply is lost so you can determine the length of time that food has been without refrigeration.
  • Ensure that all meat, poultry or fish is stored in suitable containers or packaging and placed in the coldest section of your refrigerator (generally adjacent to vents or elements).
  • Always store raw foods below cooked and ready-to-eat food as juices from raw meat, poultry and fish can drip onto ready-to-eat foods and contaminate them.
  • Avoid leaving food in open refrigerated display cases. Move as much perishable food as possible to sealed refrigerators and freezers.
  • Use ice and frozen bottles of water to keep perishable food below 5°C. Purchase extra ice if necessary.

Remember the basic rule of food safety is “If in doubt - throw it out”

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