Health

What Did You Do With Your Perishable Food After the Blackout?

The message from the County’s Public Health Officer after the blackout was, “When in doubt, throw it out.” But did you get rid of the food in your refrigerator or did you eat it?

The County’s Health and Human Services Agency is conducting a brief survey, in English and Spanish, to determine what residents did with their food after the power went out.  Short English survey can be accessed here. La pequeña encuesta en español aquí.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, a refrigerator without power will keep food safely cold for about four hours if unopened, but the power was out in our region for up to 12 hours in some places. That means some of us had refrigerated food that was unsafe to eat. Did you eat it anyway? If so, did you get sick?

“The purpose of this survey is to better understand the food handling practices of San Diego County residents in blackout situations and to assess whether residents experienced subsequent gastrointestinal illness,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer. “Widespread exposure to unsafe food could have occurred as past studies have found that food safety behaviors are not routinely practiced.”

A previous study found that only 33% of respondents knew to discard meat, poultry, milk, eggs, and deli items after four hours without power.

“The results will identify safety practices that are not followed and will highlight critical food safety messages that need to be conveyed to the public,” Wooten concluded.

Storage Times for the Refrigerator and Freezer from FoodSafety.gov