Restaurants and other food establishments have been warned to brace themselves for Queensland renowned “turbulent storm seasons” which has been known to cause severe destruction to property and endanger lives.
Roads can be blocked, power outages can occur and people are at risk of being injured by flying debris and other materials during severe storms.
An interesting and very informative post on www.SafeFood.qld.gov.au provided food businesses with some safety tips to help in the aftermath of a severe storm. Although food safety is often not high on most people’s priority list following the devastation of a storm, food may become spoiled and present a significant health risk to people due to power outages etc. and so it is an issue worth taking seriously.
Below are some of the tips suggested on the SafeFood.Qld.gov.au website:
DURING A STORM
- If power is lost, turn off and unplug electrical items. Do not use wet or damp electrical items.
- Keep your fridge and freezer doors closed for as long as possible to maintain the cold temperature.
- The fridge will keep food at a safe temperature for about 4 hours if it is unopened.
- A full freezer can hold its freezing temperature for up to 48 hours if the door remains closed.
- Keep your Emergency Kit close at hand
AFTER A STORM
- Boil or purify your water until supplies are declared safe.
- Consume refrigerated food within 4 hours of having no power.
- Consume thawed frozen food within 48 hours of having no power.
- If in doubt, throw it out!
The article also goes on to explain some of the more general rules for food safety following a severe storm, although most of it is common sense it is worth remembering do not try to determine whether food is safe by tasting it because harmful bacteria sometimes cannot be tasted but may still be present. Also do not eat food after it has been stored at the incorrect temperature and obviously never eat food if it tastes strange, has an odor or is slimy.
As a general rule food left in a refrigerator which has been off for 2 hours or more should be discarded. There are certain foods that may be safe such as canned and fresh fruit and vegetables, butter, jams, peanut butter, most sauces, most baked goods except those with dairy in them such as cheesecake. Generally all meat products should be discarded.
Another major problem when power outages take place over long periods of time when storms are particularly severe are fridge odours. This can be a major problem for many people so remember to:
- Dispose of all spoiled food. If you are unsure if something is safe to eat, rather throw it away.
- Remove the fridge’s shelves, crispers and ice trays and wash them thoroughly with hot water and detergent. Then rinse with a sanitizing solution such as 1 tablespoon of liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water.
- Wash the interior of the refrigerator and freezer, including the door and gasket, with hot water and baking soda. Rinse with sanitizing solution as above.
- Leave the door open for about 15 minutes to allow it to completely dry and for free air circulation.