You can’t be too careful about food safety during power outages

Local News

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK)—With tens of thousands of customers in the tri-state still without power some families are losing hundreds of dollars worth of groceries. It can be difficult to decide what to keep and what to toss out.

Dale Mason lives in Jackson County, West Virginia, where the power has been out for days. He’s thankful to have a generator to save his food and his neighbor’s food too.

“We’ve got a lot of food and stuff that we’ve bought that we don’t want to lose, a lot of meat that is froze,” Mason said. “So, fortunately, we have some real good friends at church that gave us a generator.”

It is a similar story in many households across our region.

“Funny enough we’d just bought half a beef from a butcher about 2 weeks ago. So I’ve got a good 250 pounds of steaks in there I’d kind of like to keep good,” said Don Straight.

If you aren’t fortunate enough to have a generator, David Winowich Deputy Director of Environmental Health Services at the Kanawha Charleston Health Department, said you can’t be too careful.

“If it is above 41, you have to throw it away. If it is 41 or colder, it can still be re-frozen. You can still cook it safely as long as it is 41 degrees,” he said.

Winowich said a simple food thermometer is essential. You can check the accuracy by putting it in ice water. Then test the food. While it can be devastating to throw groceries away, Winowich said you should never take a chance.

“If it is out of temperature that means there might be a lot of bacteria growing in the food. When you cook it all of those bacteria will be killed. But those bacteria leave behind a toxin or a poison and no matter how much you cook it that poison will stay in the food,” Winowich said.

For more tips and information to help you decide what to keep and what to throw out, just click here.

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