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Generators Ensure Food Safety During Power Outages

Protecting Food Storage During Power Outages

Based in Houston, we not only sell new and used equipment, but offer rentals and repair and maintenance services as well. For information, stop by our Houston location, call us at 281-962-1023, or visit the Coastal Power & Equipment website.

If you own a restaurant, bar, convenience store, grocery, or any other business that stores, sells, or serves food, a power outage can be disastrous. For many foodstuffs, refrigeration is not optional, and leaving it at room temperature can make it unsafe to eat. During the ferocious winter of 2016-17, power outages have been widespread throughout the country, a situation that should pose concern unless you have generators to back up your power from the grid and have a plan for preserving food safety during an outage.

General Tips For Food Preservation During Outages

The FDA encourages you to follow some basic safety rules to keep food safe during power outrages:

  • A refrigerator can keep food safe for about four hours if you keep the door shut.
  • A full freezer that is left unopened with keep food safe for 48 hours, while a half-full one will preserve food for 24 hours.
  • You can keep the refrigerator or freezer cold with dry or block ice during the emergency.
  • You can eat refrigerated or frozen meat, fish, poultry or eggs that has been kept at or below 40 for the refrigerator or 0 for the freezer. Just make sure to thoroughly cook the food to a safe minimum internal temperature.
  • Check the temperature of items after a power outage. Discard anything has been kept above 40 for two hours or at 90 for two hours or that smells funny. Frozen food that contains ice crystals is usually safe.

Planning For Outages

Commercial establishments should pre-plan how to preserve their foodstuffs during a power outage with an emergency plan that should include generators to minimize disruption. In the absence of adequate backup, you should follow a plan to make sure that you do not endanger public health by also implementing measures such as:

  • Cover open display cases. If possible, move the contents including meat, dairy products, and deli items to a walk-in refrigerator. Also, close reach-in coolers and walk-in boxes to retain temperature.
  • Plan well in advance to extend the life of products by ordering dry ice or arrange for a refrigerated trailer.
  • Since food on the top shelf of the refrigerator loses temperature the fastest, arrange foods in refrigerators so that those that have the highest cooking end point such as chicken (165) are placed in the bottom of the unit, while those with lower recommended internal temperatures such as beef (145) or are ready to eat are placed on higher shelves.

After a power outage is over, segregate spoiled food, inventory it, and have the Department of Health verify the damage for insurance purposes. To avoid law suits, throw away anything that is potentially spoiled. Your local health department can provide you with special rules for your area.

Preventing Food Loss With Backup Generators

Having proper coverage with generators doesn't relieve your responsibility for checking the condition of food after a power outage, but makes it likely that cooling was not interrupted. If your business operations involve food, Coastal Power and Equipment can help you estimate the amount of back up generator power you need to withstand a power outage without compromising food safety and setting yourself up for a loss.