Must I discard my freezer food after a 3 day winter power outage?

Asked February 28, 2015, 11:18 AM EST

Power was out here for three days (nearly 72 hours) due to ice storm, so there was no heat in our log house. One of the days got to 0 degrees F outside. We were away when the power went off and when it came back on, so I don't know what went on with our downstairs chest freezer. The food is now frozen again. The freezer was almost 3/4 full and still has some ice on the sides as though it didn't defrost. I don't see any frozen water on its floor. I usually put a bowl of ice cubes in the freezer when we are going away for long periods so I know if they melted and refroze, but I didn't do it this time. Should I just discard all of the food, or is there a way I can tell what items remained frozen long enough to be safe? Thanks.

Monroe County Tennessee

1 Response

A full freezer will hold its temperature about 48 hours when the power is off. So, you could expect your food to be frozen for about 36 hours. Once the temperature exceeds 40 degrees F, the food is safe for 2 hours. After 2 hours, you cannot be sure it is safe to eat. That is the key. Because it was nearly 72 hours it would be best to discard most of the food.

It is safe to refreeze fruit and juice as long as you do not see mold, or it has a yeasty smell, or it is slimy. You also can refreeze hard cheeses, breads, rolls, muffins, cakes and pies (unless they have a custard or cream cheese filling), bread dough and pie crusts. You can refreeze flour, cornmeal and nuts aw well as breakfast items such as waffles, pancakes and bagels. Anything else would be considered risky.

Hope this is helpful. Maybe our Spring will come soon!