By Molly Daly

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — If the last few storms have left you without electricity for hour or days, you’ve likely wondered if the food in your refrigerator is still safe to eat, or should end up in the trash.

“When the power goes out, the best thing to do is don’t open your fridge,” said Rutgers professor and food safety expert Don Schaffner, “and don’t open your freezer.”

When it comes back on, Schaffner says to check the freezer temperature.

“That thermometer is going to be your best indication as to whether the food is going to be okay to consume when the power comes back on,” Schaffner said. “As long as that food is still frozen, or even if it’s not frozen, if it’s at refrigerator temperature — 40 degrees or less — it’s okay to use or to refreeze.”

As for what’s in the refrigerator…

“I think most experts would agree that as long as the temperature of the food has not risen above 45 degrees fahrenheit, you are okay to consume it,” he said.

But, Schaffner says, if you’re still waffling on whether it’s safe…

“When in doubt, throw it out.”


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