After Irma knocked out power to more than 1.5 million people in Georgia, many are left wondering which - if any - of their perishable foods are safe to eat.

First tip, never taste food to determine its safety, says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Another important thing to know: If your power is still out and you haven't opened your refrigerator or freezer yet, don't.

The FDA reports:

  • A refrigerator will keep food cold for up to four hours if unopened
  • A freezer up to 48 hours (24 hours if half full)
  • Dry ice can be used to keep your fridge cold


Here's how to determined which food items should be discarded, according to the FDA:

• If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, check the temperature when the power comes back on. If the freezer thermometer reads 40 degrees or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen.

• If a thermometer hasn't been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. You can’t rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40 degrees or below, it's safe to refreeze or cook.

• Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than four hours and the refrigerator door kept shut. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers) that has been at temperatures above 40 degrees for two hours or more (or one hour if temperatures are above 90 degrees).

Still unsure if you should throw out a food item? lists specific foods ranging from meat to fruit and at which point they should be discarded. View that list here

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