NC State Extension Publications

Frozen Foods - If the Power Goes out, What Can I Keep?

  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature
  • You may safely re-freeze foods that still contain ice crystals or that have been kept at 41°F or below
  • Place a thermometer in your fridge and freezer
  • Use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer to check foods (cooking and storage temperatures)
  • Have items that don't require refrigeration and can be eaten cold or heated on an outdoor grill
  • Unsafe food may not appear or smell to be spoiled
  • A closed fridge will keep food below 41°F only about 4 hours after a power loss
  • A closed freezer can keep food below 41°F for up to 48 hours if full and kept cold

Meat, Poultry, and Seafood

Item Still contains ice crystals and feels cold as if refrigerated Thawed. Held above 41°F for over 2 hours
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. (There will be some texture and flavor loss.) Discard

Dairy

Item Still contains ice crystals and feels cold as if refrigerated Thawed. Held above 41°F for over 2 hours
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

Bread, Pastries

Item Still contains ice crystals and feels cold as if refrigerated Thawed. Held above 41°F for over 2 hours
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

Item Still contains ice crystals and feels cold as if refrigerated Thawed. Held above 41°F for over 2 hours
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

Fruits

Item Still contains ice crystals and feels cold as if refrigerated Thawed. Held above 41° F for over 2 hours
Juices Refreeze Refreeze. Discard if mold, yeasty smell, or sliminess develops.
Home or commercially packed fruits Refreeze (Will change texture and flavor) Refreeze. Discard if mold, yeasty smell, or sliminess develops.

Vegetables

Item Still contains ice crystals and feels cold as if refrigerated Thawed. Held above 41°F for over 2 hours
Juices Refreeze Discard after held above 40°F for 6 hours.
Home or commercially packed vegetables, blanched vegetables Refreeze (May suffer texture and flavor loss) Discard after held above 40°F for 6 hours.

For More Information

This factsheet is also available in Infosheet Format.

For more information on disaster preparedness and recovery visit the NC Disaster Information Center.

Author

Extension Food Safety Specialist and Assistant Professor
Agricultural and Human Sciences

Publication date: July 1, 2014

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