Knowing when to throw it out
December 24, 2002
Lengthy power outages across Truckee and the North Shore this week have left many residents wondering what food items in their fridges and freezers are no longer safe for consumption.
“All of the meat that I have I’ve put outside on the deck in a cooler full of snow,” said one concerned Glenshire resident, who had been without power since Saturday. “I want to know about stuff like pickles and chocolate syrup, and the marinated mushrooms I have in my fridge.”
According to a dietician at Tahoe Forest Hospital, the standard rule of thumb is that things are safe for 72 hours or until the temperature in the fridge reaches 40 degrees.
That includes things like meat and eggs and milk products.
“As for things like chocolate syrup and some bottled dressings – things with a lot of preservatives, those things will keep for a lot longer,” said Teri Smith, a spokesperson for Tahoe Forest Hospital.
Smith added that those guidelines are for people who have stayed out of the fridge as much as possible.
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Things like butter and margarine also have a longer life span.
“For those who’ve been opening the door a lot, I’d say 48 hours is a better guideline,” she added.
“A lot of people are putting things outside in the snow, but then you’ve got the bears and raccoons to contend with,” she said.
As for freezer items, as long as things remain frozen, they should be okay. Once things defrost, if they are not cooked within a day, they should be thrown away.
“I think that the best rule is that if people have any doubts, they should throw things out,” Smith said.