Reminder of How to Take Precautions Against Foodborne Illness After a Storm
July 19, 2012

It’s that time of year again, the time where powerful acts of nature like lightning, violent winds and flooding can cause power outages that can leave you “off the grid” for hours, days or, in some cases, weeks. Residents of the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest know this all too well – severe thunderstorms left millions in those regions without power earlier this summer.

There are several steps, provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), to help you minimize the potential for contracting a foodborne illness during weather emergencies:

  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.
  • Discard eggs after 4 hours without power.
  • Obtain dry or block ice to keep your refrigerator and freezer as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of time.
  • Discard any food, including eggs or egg products that are not in waterproof containers if there is any chance that they have come in contact with flood water.
  • If you decide to cook with eggs, thoroughly wash all metal pans, ceramic dishes and utensils that came in contact with flood water with hot soapy water and sanitize by boiling them in clean water or by immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water.
  • Always remember to never taste food to determine its safety. When in doubt, throw it out!

Visit for more food safety tips during or after a power outage. Consumers with food safety questions can also “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at or on your smartphone.