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Food Safety After a Power Outage

Food that has been without refrigeration for more than 4 hours may cause illness. Discard all spoiled food to avoid potential health risk.

Never Taste Food To Determine Its Safety!

If your home was impacted by a power outage, special considerations are necessary to ensure the safety of food in refrigerators or freezers.

  • If available, place a thermometer in your refrigerator to monitor the temperature.
  • When the power goes out, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
  • Check for signs of power outage, such as liquid or refrozen meat juices or melted ice cream.
  • Throw out any perishable food that has been at room temperature for 2 or more hours and any food that has an unusual color, odor, or texture.
  • Throw out any refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, cut fruit, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers, and deli items after 4 or more hours without power or if the food is above 40° F for more than 4 hours.
  • Thawed food that contains ice crystals, or is at 40° F or below, can be refrozen or cooked.
  • Freezers, if left unopened and full during a power outage, will keep food safe for 48 hours (24 hours if half full).
  • Reheating food that has become contaminated will not make it safe!
  • Throw out spoiled food in the appropriate refuse bin.
  • To discard large volumes of food, contact your trash disposal company for expedited service.


Foodborne illnesses can cause vomiting, diarrhea, doctor’s visits, and lost workdays. When bacteria grow on food, they can produce toxins or multiply to levels that are unsafe for eating.

Additional information is available at:

Questions? Contact Sonoma County Environmental Health staff at (707) 565-6565 during normal working hours, 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM Monday through Friday.