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Power out because of Hurricane Ian? Here's what you can — and can't — eat

More than 2 million people were without power across Florida on Thursday evening, according to PowerOutage.us

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It may be a common occurrence for people's power to go out in any kind of storm. 

However, when facing a natural disaster as strong as Hurricane Ian, a power outage may last for a couple of days. And in the Tampa Bay region, more than 1 million utility customers had their power out.

With no electricity in the household, that means a refrigerator won't be able to help keep food at a cold temperature. It then becomes a matter of time of how long a person or family has to eat that food until it becomes unhealthy. 

If you didn't buy or buy enough nonperishable food items before the hurricane arrived and the power is already out, you have about four hours to eat whatever is in the fridge before it goes bad, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

"Throw out perishable food in your refrigerator, such as meat, fish, cut fruits and vegetables, eggs, milk, and any leftovers after 4 hours without power or a cold source like dry ice," the CDC said on its website. "Throw out any food with an unusual odor, color, or texture."

It's also important to have a thermometer either in your fridge or somewhere in the home to ensure there's a way to see if any food is good to eat, the CDC says. 

"You can safely refreeze or cook thawed frozen food that still contains ice crystals or is at 40°F or below," the CDC says.

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According to Consumer Reports, a full freezer will keep food cold for 48 hours, or 24 hours if it's half full. Some types of food that can be eaten even four hours after the power went out and was stored in the fridge.

"Bread, butter, fresh fruit and vegetables, jelly, and hard cheeses, such as cheddar, will keep at room temperature, so if you have them in your fridge, don’t be afraid to eat them even if the power has been out for longer than 4 hours," Consumer Reports said on its website.

Other types of food can still be consumed even if they are raw or were refrigerated for a few days. 

"Apples, avocados, citrus fruit, carrots, celery, cucumbers, grapes, green beans, peppers, snap peas, and tomatoes are fresh foods that can be eaten raw and will be good for days unrefrigerated," Consumer Report says. 

To learn more about ways to check if what you have in the fridge is good to eat after the power goes out, click here. 


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