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Archive for Wednesday, February 6, 2002

t rely on odor, appearance to judge items

February 6, 2002

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The key to determining the safety of foods in the home refrigerator and freezer is knowing how cold they are after the power outage. The refrigerator temperature should be 40 degrees or below, the freezer 0 degrees or lower.

Discard any perishable foods (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) that have been above 40 degrees for two hours or more and any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture, or feels warm to the touch. Be sure to discard any fully cooked items in either the freezer or the refrigerator that have come into contact with raw meat juices. Don't rely on appearance or odor.

Never taste food to determine its safety. Some foods may look and smell fine, but if they've been at room temperature too long, bacteria that cause food-borne illness can begin to grow rapidly. Some types will produce toxins that are not destroyed by cooking.

Here are some guidelines for specific foods.

Refrigerated foods

As long as the power has been out less than two hours, all foods will be safe.

If held above 40 degrees for more than two hours, these foods should be discarded:

 fresh or leftover meat, poultry, fish or seafood

 thawing meat or poultry

 meat, tuna, shrimp, chicken or egg salad

 gravy, stuffing

 lunch meats, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, dried beef

 pizza  with any topping

 canned hams labeled "keep refrigerated"

 opened canned meats

 soft cheeses  blue/bleu, Roquefort, brie, Camembert, colby, cottage, cream, Edam, Monterey Jack, ricotta, mozzarella, Muenster, Neufchatel

 shredded cheeses

 low-fat cheeses

 milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, evaporated milk, yogurt

 opened baby formula

 fresh eggs, hard-cooked in shell, egg dishes, egg products

 custards and puddings

 casseroles, soups, stews

 cut fresh fruits

 opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce, horseradish

 white wine

 fish (oyster), hoisin and Worcestershire sauces

 opened cream-based dressings, spaghetti sauce and salsa

 refrigerator biscuits, rolls, cookie dough

 cooked pasta, spaghetti

 pasta salads with mayonnaise or vinaigrette

 fresh pasta

 cheesecake

 cream-filled pastries

 custard, cheese-filled or chiffon pies

 precut, prewashed or packaged greens

 cooked vegetables

 opened vegetable juice

 baked potatoes

 commercial garlic in oil

 potato salad

If held above 40 degrees for more than two hours, these foods are safe:

 hard cheeses  cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan, provolone, Romano

 processed cheeses

 grated parmesan, romano or combinations (in can or jar)

 butter, margarine

 opened fruit juices or canned fruits

 fresh fruits, coconut, raisins, dried fruits, candied fruits, dates

 peanut butter

 jelly, relish, mustard, catsup, olives or taco, barbecue and soy sauce

 opened vinegar-based dressings

 bread, rolls, cakes, muffins, quick breads

 breakfast foods  waffles, pancakes, bagels

 fruit pies

 fresh mushrooms, herbs

 raw vegetables

Frozen food

The foods in your freezer that partially or completely thaw before power is restored may be safely refrozen if they still contain ice crystals or are 40 degrees or below.

Evaluate each item separately. Be careful with meat and poultry products or any food containing milk, cream, sour cream or soft cheese. When in doubt, throw them out.

Partial thawing and refreezing may reduce the quality of some foods. Raw meats and poultry from the freezer can usually be refrozen without too much quality loss.

Prepared foods, vegetables and fruits can normally be refrozen, but there may be some quality loss. Fruit juices can be refrozen safely without much quality loss, but frozen fruit will become mushy.

If the following foods have thawed and were held above 40 degrees for more than two hours, discard them:

 beef, veal, lamb, pork and ground meats

 poultry

 variety meats (liver, kidney, heart, chitterlings)

 casseroles, stews, soups

 fish, shellfish, breaded seafood products

 milk

 eggs (out of shell) and egg products

 ice cream, frozen yogurt

 cheese (soft and semisoft)

 shredded cheeses

 casseroles containing milk, cream, eggs, soft cheeses

 cheesecake

 vegetable juices

 home or commercially packaged or blanched vegetables

 cakes, pies, pastries with custard or cheese filling

 pasta- and rice-based casseroles

 frozen meat, entree, specialty items (pizza, sausage and biscuit, meat pie, convenience foods)

The following foods can be refrozen if mold, yeasty smell or sliminess has not developed:

 hard cheeses

 fruit juices

 home or commercially packaged fruits

 bread, rolls, muffins, cakes (without custard fillings)

 pie crusts, commercial and homemade bread dough

 flour, cornmeal, nuts

 breakfast items  waffles, pancakes, bagels




 Susan Krumm is an Extension agent in family and consumer sciences with K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper St. She can be reached at 843-7058.

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