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Storing Food

Frozen Food and Power Outages: When to Save and When to Throw Out

Adapted from Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency (USDA).

Thawed or partially thawed food in the freezer may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °F or below. Partial thawing and refreezing may affect the quality of some food, but the food will be safe to eat.

If you keep an appliance thermometer in your freezer, it’s easy to tell whether food is safe. When the power comes back on, check the thermometer. If it reads 40 °F or below, the food is safe and can be refrozen.

Never taste food to determine its safety! You can’t rely on appearance or odor to determine whether food is safe.

Note: Always discard any items in the freezer that have come into contact with raw meat juices.

You will have to evaluate each item separately. Use this chart as a guide.

Food Categories

Specific Foods

Still contains ice crystals and feels as cold as if refrigerated

Thawed and held above 40 °F for over 2 hours

MEAT, POULTRY, SEAFOOD

Beef, veal, lamb, pork, and ground meats

Refreeze

Discard

Poultry and ground poultry

Refreeze

Discard

Variety meats (liver, kidney, heart, chitterlings)

Refreeze

Discard

Casseroles, stews, soups

Refreeze

Discard

Fish, shellfish, breaded seafood products

Refreeze. However, there will be some texture and flavor loss.

Discard

DAIRY

Milk

Refreeze. May lose some texture.

Discard

Eggs (out of shell) and egg products

Refreeze

Discard

Ice cream, frozen yogurt

Discard

Discard

Cheese (soft and semi-soft)

Refreeze. May lose some texture.

Discard

Hard cheeses

Refreeze

Refreeze

Shredded cheeses

Refreeze

Discard

Casseroles containing milk, cream, eggs, soft cheeses

Refreeze

Discard

Cheesecake

Refreeze

Discard

FRUITS

Juices

Refreeze

Refreeze. Discard if mold, yeasty smell, or sliminess develops.

Home or commercially packaged

Refreeze. Will change texture and flavor.

Refreeze. Discard if mold, yeasty smell, or sliminess develops.

VEGETABLES

Juices

Refreeze

Discard after held above 40 °F for 6 hours.

Home or commercially packaged or blanched

Refreeze. May suffer texture and flavor loss.

Discard after held above 40 °F for 6 hours.

BREADS, PASTRIES

Breads, rolls, muffins, cakes (without custard fillings)

Refreeze

Refreeze

Cakes, pies, pastries with custard or cheese filling

Refreeze

Discard

Pie crusts, commercial and homemade bread dough

Refreeze. Some quality loss may occur.

Refreeze. Quality loss is considerable.

OTHER

Casseroles – pasta, rice based

Refreeze

Discard

Flour, cornmeal, nuts

Refreeze

Refreeze

Breakfast items –waffles, pancakes, bagels

Refreeze

Refreeze

Frozen meal, entree, specialty items (pizza, sausage and biscuit, meat pie, convenience foods)

Refreeze

Discard

 

Refrigerated Food and Power Outages: When to Save and When to Throw Out

Adapted from Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency (USDA).

Is food in the refrigerator safe during a power outage? It should be safe as long as power is out no more than 4 hours. Keep the door closed as much as possible. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers) that have been above 40 °F for over 2 hours.

Never taste food to determine its safety! You can’t rely on appearance or odor to determine whether food is safe.

Note: Always discard any items in the refrigerator that have come into contact with raw meat juices.

You will have to evaluate each item separately. Use this chart as a guide.

Food Categories

Specific Foods

Held above 40 °F for over 2 hours

MEAT, POULTRY, SEAFOOD

Raw or leftover cooked meat, poultry, fish, or seafood; soy meat substitutes

Discard

Thawing meat or poultry

Discard

Salads: Meat, tuna, shrimp, chicken, or egg salad

Discard

Gravy, stuffing, broth

Discard

Lunchmeats, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, dried beef

Discard

Pizza – with any topping

Discard

Canned hams labeled "Keep Refrigerated"

Discard

Canned meats and fish, opened

Discard

Casseroles, soups, stews

Discard

CHEESE

Soft Cheeses: blue/bleu, Roquefort, Brie, Camembert, cottage, cream, Edam, Monterey Jack, ricotta, mozzarella, Muenster, Neufchatel, queso blanco, queso fresco

Discard

Hard Cheeses: Cheddar, Colby, Swiss, Parmesan, provolone, Romano

Safe

Processed Cheeses

Safe

Shredded Cheeses

Discard

Low-fat Cheeses

Discard

Grated Parmesan, Romano, or combination (in can or jar)

Safe

DAIRY

Milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, evaporated milk, yogurt, eggnog, soy milk

Discard

Butter, margarine

Safe

Baby formula, opened

Discard

EGGS

Fresh eggs, hard-cooked in shell, egg dishes, egg products

Discard

Custards and puddings, quiche

Discard

FRUITS

Fresh fruits, cut

Discard

Fruit juices, opened

Safe

Canned fruits, opened

Safe

Fresh fruits, coconut, raisins, dried fruits, candied fruits, dates

Safe

SAUCES, SPREADS, JAMS

Opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce, horseradish

Discard if above 50 °F for over 8 hrs.

Peanut butter

Safe

Jelly, relish, taco sauce, mustard, catsup, olives, pickles

Safe

Worcestershire, soy, barbecue, hoisin sauces

Safe

Fish sauces, oyster sauce

Discard

Opened vinegar-based dressings

Safe

Opened creamy-based dressings

Discard

Spaghetti sauce, opened jar

Discard

BREAD, CAKES, COOKIES, PASTA, GRAINS

Bread, rolls, cakes, muffins, quick breads, tortillas

Safe

Refrigerator biscuits, rolls, cookie dough

Discard

Cooked pasta, rice, potatoes

Discard

Pasta salads with mayonnaise or vinaigrette

Discard

Fresh pasta

Discard

Cheesecake

Discard

Breakfast foods –waffles, pancakes, bagels

Safe

PIES, PASTRY

Pastries, cream filled

Discard

Pies – custard, cheese filled, or chiffon; quiche

Discard

Pies, fruit

Safe

VEGETABLES

Fresh mushrooms, herbs, spices

Safe

Greens, pre-cut, pre-washed, packaged

Discard

Vegetables, raw

Safe

Vegetables, cooked; tofu

Discard

Vegetable juice, opened

Discard

Baked potatoes

Discard

Commercial garlic in oil

Discard

Potato salad

Discard

Casseroles, soups, stews

Discard

Ham Storage Chart

Type of Ham

Refrigerate

Freeze

Fresh (uncured) Ham, uncooked

3 to 5 days

6 months

Fresh (uncured) Ham, cooked

3 to 4 days

3 to 4 months

Cured Ham, cook-before-eating; uncooked

5 to 7 days or “use-by” date*

3 to 4 months

Cured Ham, cook-before-eating; after consumer cooks it

3 to 5 days

1 to 2 months

Cooked Ham, vacuum sealed at plant,undated; unopened

2 weeks

1 to 2 months

Cooked Ham, vacuum sealed at plant,dated; unopened

“Use- by” date*

1 to 2 months

Cooked Ham, vacuum sealed at plant, undated or dated; opened

3 to 5 days

1 to 2 months

Cooked Ham, whole, store wrapped

7 days

1 to 2 months

Cooked Ham, half, store wrapped

3 to 5 days

1 to 2 months

Cooked Ham, slices, store wrapped

3 to 5 days

1 to 2 months

Spiral-cut hams and leftovers from consumer-cooked hams

3 to 5 days

1 to 2 months

**Country Ham, uncooked, cut

2 to 3 months

1 month

Country Ham, cooked

7 days

1 month

Canned Ham, labeled "Keep Refrigerated," unopened

6 to 9 months

Do not freeze

Canned Ham, labeled "Keep Refrigerated," opened

7 days

1 to 2 months

***Canned Ham, shelf stable, opened

3 to 4 days

1 to 2 months

Lunch Meat Ham, sealed at plant, unopened

2 weeks or “use-by” date*

1 to 2 months

Lunch Meat Ham, sealed at plant, after opening

3 to 5 days

1 to 2 months

Lunch Meat Ham, sliced in store

3 to 5 days

1 to 2 months

Prosciutto, Parma or Serrano Ham, dry Italian or Spanish type, cut

2 to 3 months

1 month

*Company determines its "use-by" date and stands by it.

** A whole, uncut country ham can be stored safely at room temperature for up to 1 year. The ham is safe after 1 year, but the quality may suffer.

*** An unopened shelf-stable, canned ham may be stored at room temperature for 2 years.

Egg Storage Chart

Eggs are one of nature's most nutritious and economical foods. But, you must take special care with handling and preparing fresh eggs and egg products to avoid food poisoning.

Product

Refrigerator

Freezer

Raw eggs in shell

3 to 5 weeks

Do not freeze. Instead, beat yolks and whites together; then freeze.

Raw egg whites

2 to 4 days

12 months

Raw egg yolks

2 to 4 days

Yolks do not freeze well.

Raw egg accidentally frozen in shell

Use immediately after thawing.

Keep frozen; then
refrigerate to thaw.

Hard-cooked eggs

1 week

Do not freeze.

Egg substitutes, liquid
Unopened

10 days

12 months

Egg substitutes, liquid
Opened

3 days

Do not freeze.

Egg substitutes, frozen
Unopened

After thawing, 7 days or refer to “Use-By” date.

12 months

Egg substitutes, frozen
Opened

After thawing, 3 days or refer to “Use-By” date.

Do not freeze.

Casseroles with eggs

3 to 4 days

After baking, 2 to 3 months.

Eggnog
Commercial

3 to 5 days

6 months

Eggnog
Homemade

2 to 4 days

Do not freeze.

Pies
Pumpkin or pecan

3 to 4 days

After baking, 1 to 2 months.

Pies
Custard and chiffon

3 to 4 days

Do not freeze.

Quiche with filling

3 to 4 days

After baking, 1 to 2 months.

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