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The Christie administration and Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd urge all residents to throw away any food that may have come in contact with flood or storm waters and advised anyone who has experienced power outages to keep their refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.
O'Dowd urged residents to dispose of any perishable food that may have been above 40 degrees for two hours or more. Food will stay cold in the refrigerator for about four hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. However, food above 40 degrees for 2 hours or more must be discarded.
"Perishable food such as meat, poultry, seafood, milk and eggs that are not kept adequately refrigerated or frozen may cause illness if consumed, even when they are thoroughly cooked," O'Dowd said.
Thawed food that contains ice crystals or is 40 degrees or below can be refrozen or cooked. Any meat, poultry, fish or eggs should be cooked thoroughly to the proper temperature to assure that any foodborne bacteria that may be present is destroyed, she said.
Information about municipalities that have issued boiled water advisories and instructions for safely boiling water for drinking can be found at http://www.nj.gov/health/er/documents/hurricane_health_safety_tips.pdf.
Below are some additional food safety tips to help prevent illness during power outages, flooding and hurricanes:
Add block ice or dry ice to the refrigerator if the electricity is expected to be off for more than four hours. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep an 18-cubic-foot fully-stocked freezer cold for two days.
Discard any food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with flood water. Food containers that are not waterproof include those with screw-off caps, snap lids and pull tops.
Discard cardboard juice, milk, baby formula boxes and home canned foods if they have come in contact with flood water because they cannot be effectively sanitized.
Inspect canned food and discard any food in damaged cans. Can damage is indicated by swelling, leakage, punctures, holes, fractures, extensive deep rusting, or crushing or denting severe enough to prevent normal stacking or opening with a manual wheel-type can opener.
Check to ensure that the freezer temperature is at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit and the refrigerator is at or below 40 degrees
Wash fruits and vegetables with water from a safe source before eating.