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National Restaurant Association - Food safety tips for after the hurricane

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Food safety tips for after the hurricane

As residents and businesses along the southeastern U.S. coast clean up after Hurricane Matthew, we’re offering some food-safety tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The storm resulted in huge rains – up to 15 inches in some areas – falling on the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida, and rising flood waters, published reports said. In addition, millions of people lost their electricity, and hundreds of thousands are still without power.

For restaurateurs and foodservice operators reopening their stores, here’s what to do with your food if you're still struggling with power outages and flooding:

Power outages

  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Refrigerators keep food cold for about four hours when the door is closed. A full freezer holds its temperature for about 48 hours, or 24 hours when it’s half-full.
  • Place meat and poultry to one side of the freezer or on a tray to prevent cross contamination of thawing juices.

Weather emergencies


  • Discard meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and other perishable food that were above 40°F for two hours or more.
  • Throw out food with an unusual odor, color or texture or feels warm.
  • Check frozen food for ice crystals. Partially or completely thawed food in your freezer may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is 40°F or below.


  • Don’t serve foods that may have come into contact with flood water.
  • Discard food not in a waterproof container if there’s any chance it came into contact with flood water. Flood water can contaminate the food inside. Toss cardboard juice and milk boxes if they’ve come into contact with flood water, because they can’t be effectively cleaned and sanitized.
  • Inspect canned food and throw away anything in damaged cans. Can damage includes swelling, leakage, punctures, fractures, extensive rusting or severe crushing/denting.
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