May 20, 2019

Is the Food Safe to Eat?

The Detroit Free Press offers an answer to the often asked question of whether food that has been in a refrigerator that has been off for a number of hours is safe to eat.

Chances are most of the perishable foods reached an unsafe temperature if the refrigerator was off for 24 hours or more. Items such as leftovers, fresh meats and poultry most likely reached an unsafe temperature where bacteria growth can take place. Milk products, soft cheeses, eggs and yogurt are considered not safe if stored above 40 degrees. Toss these items out. Also, homemade or store-bought mayonnaise, cream-based salad dressing and soups should be discarded.

The USDA says refrigerators should maintain a 40-degree temperature or below. Use an appliance thermometer to verify this and keep it in the refrigerator.

“This can be critical in the event of a power outage. When the power goes back on, if the refrigerator is still 40 degrees, the food is safe,” according to

Many condiments, such as ketchup, mustard, jelly, jams, soy sauce and bottled marinade should be OK. These condiments usually have high salt and sugars that can act as a preservative. Bread would be fine as well as most fruit and vegetables. If the refrigerator is off more than 24 hours vegetables and fruits could become slimy or moldy.

If your freezer was turned off too, consider that some of those foods thawed during that time. If the foods still contain ice crystals they can be refrozen safely, according to the MSU Extension, Oakland County. The issue with thawing and refreezing is quality may be compromised.