Sooner or later, every home has a power outage. The electricity may have gone off during a snowstorm or thunderstorm, or the refrigerator may simply quit working. Whatever the cause, dealing with the food involved when the unit is off requires a knowledge of food safety.
Although dry ice can be used in the refrigerator, block ice is better. You can put it in the refrigerator's freezer unit along with your refrigerated perishables such as meat, poultry and dairy items.
Handling dry ice
Handle dry ice with caution and in a well-ventilated area. Don't touch it with bare hand; wear gloves or use tongs. Wrap dry ice in brown paper for longer storage. One large piece lasts longer than small ones. The temperature of dry ice is -216 degree Fahrenheit; therefore, it may cause freezer burn on items located near or touching it. Separate dry ice from the food using a piece of cardboard.
Some foods can be kept
Partial thawing and refreezing may reduce the quality of some foods. Raw meats and poultry from the freezer can usually be refrozen without too much quality loss. Prepared foods, vegetables and fruits can normally be refrozen, but there may be some quality loss. Fruit juices can be refrozen safely without much quality loss, but frozen fruit will become mushy.
In general, refrigerated items should be safe as long as power is out no more than four hours. Keep the door closed as much as possible. Discard any perishable foods (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) that have been above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours or more, and any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture, or feels warm to the touch.
Keep an appliance thermometer handy
Be prepared for all power outages. If you live in an area where loss of electricity from summer or winter storms is a problem, you can plan ahead to be prepared for the worst.
These are rule-of-thumb guides. For the actual handling of specific foods, follow the instructions in the following charts. Be sure to discard any fully cooked items in either the freezer or the refrigerator that have come into contact with raw meat juices. Remember, you can't rely on appearance or odor.
Never taste food to determine its safety! Some foods may look and smell fine, but if they've been at room temperature too long, bacteria that cause foodborne illness can begin to grow very rapidly. Some types will produce toxins that are not destroyed by cooking.