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Food Safety: When Your Power Is Restored After an Outage

Weather Alert


When your power returns, check the condition of the food before refreezing it!

Most people’s immediate reaction is to get the food refrozen quickly.  However, before refreezing check the temperature and condition of the food before doing so.  Otherwise, you will not be able to tell if the food is safe for refreezing.

Throw out any food on which juices from raw meat, poultry, fish or shellfish has dripped.  Be especially careful with any items that are not thoroughly heated before eating.

Use the following guidelines for completely thawed foods.

  • Fruits (such as strawberries, peaches, apples) – Refreeze if they smell good. If the item is beginning to ferment, it is still safe to eat although the flavor will be  changed. Use these items in cooking.
  • Vegetables – Refreeze or cook and serve thawed vegetables immediately.  Considerable loss in quality will occur.
  • Meat and poultry – Look at each package separately. If item still has ice crystals or has not been thawed for more than 48 hours (assuming it has not been held above 40°F), refreeze or thoroughly cook and refreeze. Otherwise, discard. Exception: Discard any stuffed poultry or meats.
  • Fish and shellfish (such as shrimp, crabs, or lobster) – These items are extremely perishable. Discard unless ice crystals remain.
  • Baked goods (such as breads, cookies and cakes) – Refreeze.
  • Nuts – Refreeze.
  • Ice cream – Do not use or refreeze melted ice cream.

Refreeze food quickly. Mark on the package of food that it has been refrozen. This will permit you to know which foods to carefully examine for any off-odors or color before preparing.

If your freezer has an adjustable temperature control, turn it to the coldest position. The freezer will run continuously and the food will freeze quicker.

Place warmer packages against freezer surface if possible. Make sure that air can circulate around the packages of food. After the food is frozen, turn the temperature control to its normal setting.

When using any food that has been refrozen, check the appearance and odor of the product. Although the overall quality of refrozen products may be poorer than the original food, there should be no off-odors or colors.

Remember, for any food if in doubt, throw it out! 


With Hurricane Sandy threatening extreme weather across Delmarva, UD Cooperative Extension food safety experts want to give you some helpful tips about keeping your food safe if the power goes out.

Please check out our “When the Power Is Out” Factsheet for a guide to how long food can stay safe in the refrigerator, freezer, or at room temperature if you lose power. A few simple things you can do are to keep the fridge or freezer door closed to keep food cold; opening the door greatly reduces the time food stays cold without power.  Place a blanket, quilt or other covering over the freezer for extra insulation, being sure not to block the air-vent opening.

When the power does come back on visit the guide for a listing of how to determine what is and is not still safe to eat. And in all instances of food safety, when in doubt, throw it OUT!

We have a variety of other Food Safety Factsheets available as well, or see our Food Safety Program offerings on the UD Extension Family and Consumer Sciences webpage.