The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service is issuing food safety recommendations for those who may be impacted by Hurricane Matthew.
The National Hurricane Center expects that Category 3 Hurricane Matthew will affect Florida’s Atlantic coast Thursday evening and Friday. Based on latest forecast models, Matthew is also likely to impact the eastern United States as it moves up the East Coast this weekend.
Significant flooding is possible from Georgia through Massachusetts, including South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington D.C., Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. According to the National Hurricane Center, some slight strengthening is forecast during the next couple of days.
Hurricanes present the possibility of power outages and flooding that can compromise the safety of stored food. Residents in the path of this storm should pay close attention to the forecast through the week. Be aware that flooding from heavy rain, damaging winds and storm surge is possible.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recommends that consumers take the following steps to reduce food waste and the risk of foodborne illness during this and other severe weather events.
Steps to follow in advance of losing power
Steps to follow if the power goes out
Steps to follow after a weather emergency
Be sure to clean and sanitize food preparation and storage areas as well as cooking utensils and dishes after a flood.
Food safety after a flood
Refrigerated perishable foods
If your refrigerator measures more than 40 degrees F for more than two hours as a result of a power outage, discard the following:
• Raw or leftover cooked meat, poultry, fish, or seafood; soy meat substitutes
• Thawing meat or poultry
• Salads: Meat, tuna, shrimp, chicken, or egg salad
• Gravy, stuffing, broth
• Lunchmeats, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, dried beef
• Pizza with any topping
• Canned hams labeled “Keep Refrigerated”
• Canned meats and fish, opened
• Casseroles, soups, stews
• Soft cheeses: blue/bleu, Roquefort, Brie, Camembert, cottage, cream, Edam, Monterey
Jack, ricotta, mozzarella, Muenster, Neufchatel, queso blanco, queso fresco
• Shredded cheeses
• Low-fat cheeses
• Milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, evaporated milk, yogurt, eggnog, soy milk
• Baby formula, opened
• Fresh eggs, hard-cooked in shell, egg dishes, egg products
• Custards and puddings, quiche
• Fresh fruits, cut
• Opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce, horseradish (discard if above 50 degrees F , or 10 degrees C, for more than eight hours)
• Fish sauces, oyster sauce
• Opened creamy-based dressings
• Spaghetti sauce, opened jar
• Refrigerator biscuits, rolls, cookie dough
• Cooked pasta, rice, potatoes
• Pasta salads with mayonnaise or vinaigrette
• Fresh pasta
• Pastries, cream-filled
• Pies — custard, cheese-filled or chiffon; quiche
• Vegetables: Greens, pre-cut, pre-washed, packaged
• Vegetables, cooked; tofu
• Vegetable juice, opened
• Baked potatoes
• Commercial garlic in oil
• Potato salad
• Casseroles, soups, stews
FSIS will provide relevant food safety information as the storm progresses on Twitter via @USDAFoodSafety and on Facebook at Facebook.com/FoodSafety.gov.
An FSIS YouTube video, “Food Safety During Power Outages,” has instructions for keeping frozen and refrigerated food safe. The publication entitled, “A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes,” can be downloaded and printed for reference during a power outage. FSIS also has an infographic covering what to do before, during and after a power outage.
If you have questions about food safety during severe weather, or about any other food safety topics, call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888MPHotline, or chat live with a food safety specialist at AskKaren.gov. These services are available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, in English and Spanish. Answers to frequently asked question can also be found 24/7 at AskKaren.gov.
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