For Immediate Release: April 19, 2007
Media Contact: Communication Office
BURLINGTON – The Vermont Department of Heath is advising anyone who lost power following the severe storm this week to take precautions to avoid eating food that may be unsafe.
Even if food does not smell bad, and even if it looks safe, it may have been out of a safe temperature range long enough to have become contaminated with dangerous bacteria.
Health Department sanitarians have inspected more than 50 restaurants in Rutland and the surrounding communities since Monday in order to prevent food from being served that may have spoiled.
"Currently we have found almost no food that may have fallen out of the approved temperature range of about 40 degrees," said Al Burns, sanitarian supervisor for the Vermont Department of Health. "We were fortunate because most people shut down their restaurants, closed them up, and did not turn the heat on. And it was cold enough, for the most part, to keep the food safe. It is warming up, however, and if a restaurant is still without power, now is the time we might find some trouble."
The Health Department recommends these food safety tips:
About food in a freezer:
- Without power, a full upright or chest freezer will keep everything frozen for about two days. A half-full freezer will keep food frozen for about one day.
- If power will be coming back on fairly soon, you can make the food last longer by keeping the door shut as much as possible.
- If power will be off for an extended period, if possible, take food to friends’ freezers.
About food in a refrigerator/freezer:
- Without power, the refrigerator section will keep food cool for 4-6 hours depending on the kitchen temperature.
- A full, well-functioning freezer unit should keep food frozen for two days. A half-full freezer unit should keep things frozen for about one day.
- Discard perishable foods like eggs, meat, fish, or milk that has been above 41 degrees for more than four to six hours.
About thawed food:
- Food still containing ice crystals or that feels refrigerator-cold can be refrozen.
- Discard any thawed food that has risen to room temperature and remained there for two hours or more.
- Immediately discard any food with a strange color or odor.
- Finally, the best advice is "if in doubt, throw it out."
If anyone has a concern about food they have eaten in a restaurant that lost power, please call the Health Department at 1-800-439-8550.
Anyone in the Rutland area who is a recipient of Vermont WIC, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, and are concerned their perishable food delivery may have fallen out of a safe temperature range, please call the Rutland District Office at 1-802-786-5811.