If your electricity is out for more than two hours, it is important to know how to make sure the foods in your refrigerator and freezer are safe.

If your electricity is out for more than two hours, it is important to know how to make sure the foods in your refrigerator and freezer are safe.
“Once the electricity goes off, the average full freezer will hold temperatures for 48 hours,” said Tammy Roberts, nutrition and health education specialist for University of Missouri Extension.
A half-full freezer will hold a freezing temperature for 24 hours. “You can extend this time by filling the freezer with newspaper or blankets as soon as the electricity goes off,” Roberts said. Only open the freezer door when absolutely necessary.
Once the electricity comes back on, check the food. Foods that still have ice crystals are OK to refreeze. “It is also OK to refreeze if the thermometer in the freezer reads 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less,” she said.
Discard food from the freezer if it has been above 40 degrees for more than two hours.
The refrigerator can only maintain a safe temperature for around four hours. Most refrigerated food that has been above 40 degrees for more than two hours should be discarded.
This includes raw or cooked meat, poultry and fish; milk, yogurt, soft cheese and cream-based foods; cracked or hard-cooked eggs; and casseroles, stews and soups.
Refrigerated foods that last longer at temperatures above 40 degrees include hard cheeses, processed cheeses, peanut butter, jelly, relish, taco sauce, mustard, ketchup, olives, pickles, barbecue sauce, fruits and fresh vegetables.
Condiments such as opened jars of mayonnaise, tartar sauce or horseradish should be pitched if they were above 50 degrees for more than eight hours.
You should toss any foods with an unusual smell, but a lack of odor is no guarantee that food is safe.
“If you are not sure how long a food was above 40 degrees, be safe and throw it out,” Roberts said. “Anyone who has ever suffered from a food-borne illness will tell you that it is not worth it to save the food.”
Susan Mills-Gray, MU Extension nutrition and health education specialist, suggests posting the following chart or similar reference near your freezer and/or refrigerator:

Toss these foods if kept more than two hours above 40 degrees:
Raw or cooked meat, poultry, fish, tofu
Meat, poultry or fish based salads
Hard cooked or cracked eggs
Egg substitutes
Milk, cream, yogurt, soft cheese, shredded cheese
Casseroles, stews, soups, pizza
Gravy, stuffing, broth
Lunch meats, hot dogs, sausage, bacon
Cream-based salad dressings
Custard, chiffon or cheese pies
Cheesecake
Cream-filled pastries
Refrigerated biscuits, rolls or cookie dough
Opened baby formula
Opened vegetable juice
Cooked vegetables
Prepackaged salads/greens
Pasta, egg or potato salads
Opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce and horseradish need to be thrown away if they were held above 50 degrees for more than eight hours.

The following foods can be kept at room temperature a few days, but toss if they turn moldy or have an unusual odor:
Butter and margarine
Spices
BBQ and steak sauces
Fresh fruits and vegetables
Ketchup and mustard
Fruit juices
Relish
Non-cream-filled or non-cream-cheese frosted cakes
Opened bottles of vinegar-based salad dressings
Taco sauce/salsa
Hard and processed cheese
Fruit pies, bread, rolls, muffins
Dried fruits, coconut
Peanut butter
Jelly
Olives and pickles