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Power is out; how long will refrigerated food stay safe

Thousands of Iowans are without power as a result of Monday’s derecho storm, including many in Washington County.

How long will refrigerated food stay safe without the refrigerator working?

The USDA says during a power outage, food can be kept in the refrigerator for up to four hours.

Refrigerated perishables such as raw or thawing meat, seafood or poultry, salads, gravy, lunch meat, pizza, canned meat, casseroles, soups and stews should all be discarded.

Dairy products such as soft cheese, shredded cheese, low fat cheese, milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, evaporated milk, yogurt, eggnog, soy milk, opened baby formula, eggs and egg products, custard or pudding should all be thrown out.

Hard cheeses, processed cheeses and canned Parmesan can be kept.

Fresh cut fruit and sliced or shredded coconut needs to be thrown away, but uncut fresh fruit, opened fruit juice and canned fruit and dried or candied fruit can be kept.

Peanut butter, jelly, relish, olives, taco sauce, ketchup, mustard, pickles,

Worcestershire, soy, barbecue and hoisin sauces and open vinegar-based dressings can be kept.

Opened spaghetti, fish and oyster sauces and cream-based dressings should be thrown away.

Mayonnaise, tartar sauce and horseradish should also be thrown away if they are kept at 50 degrees or warmer for more than eight hours.

Refrigerated biscuits, rolls, cookie dough, cooked pasta, rice, potatoes, pasta salad, cooked pasta and cheesecake should all be thrown away.

Bread, rolls, cakes, muffins, quick breads, tortillas, pancakes, waffles and bagels can be kept.

Cream filled pastries and pies with a custard or cheese filling and quiches should be thrown away but fruit pies will keep.

Fresh-cut vegetables, pre-packaged greens, cooked vegetables and tofu, baked potatoes, potato salad, open vegetable juice, garlic in oil, soup, casseroles and stews cannot be kept. Only fresh, uncut vegetables will save.

A freezer full of food will remain at a safe temperature for 48 hours. A half-full freezer will remain at a safe temperature for 24 hours, as long as the door remains closed.

All frozen foods thawed and kept above 40 degrees for more than two hours need to be thrown away. The exceptions are hard cheeses, fruit juices, fruit, breads, rolls, muffins, cakes, pie crusts, flour, cornmeal, nuts, waffles, pancakes and bagels. These items can all be kept and re-frozen.

If the following foods are cold, feel as if they have been refrigerated and contain ice crystals, they can be re-frozen: Meat, poultry, seafood, stews, soups, milk, eggs (out of shell) and egg products, soft and semi-soft cheese, shredded cheese, bread dough, pastas, casseroles, frozen entrees.