USDA Says It’s Not Safe To Store Food In The Snow If You Lose Electricity

not safe to store food in snow


With an intense stretch of below-freezing temperatures and ice storms hitting a number of states around the country, millions of people have lost electricity. So, what do you do with all of the food inside your refrigerator and freezer? You may think that taking it outside in the below-freezing temperatures may be the correct move, but according to the USDA, you shouldn’t store food outside in the snow.

Given the fact that snowstorms and people losing electricity is nothing news, the USDA actually includes ‘A snowstorm knocked down the power lines, can I put the food from the refrigerator and freezer out in the snow?’ as a FAQ on its website. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) lists a number of different reasons as to why storing your food outside is a bad idea.

While it may be below freezing outside, the sun’s rays can still thaw out food which could cause foodborne bacteria to grow. Plus, the outside temperature changes throughout the day, therefore foods could be a part of an up and down cycle of thawing and re-freezing. Animals and insects could also cause issues with the food and leave behind bacteria as well.

So, what’s the solution? The USDA says to take advantage of the frigid temperatures by making ice. Fill any empty container with water and leave them outside to freeze, then take that ice and throw it in your refrigerator, freezer, or coolers. The USDA also notes that refrigerators keep food safely cold for about four hours while a freezer will hold temperatures for at least 24 hours and up to 48 hours if it is full.

So, in summary, it’s bad to store food outside, even if it’s well below freezing. But, the USDA doesn’t say anything about keeping your beer stored in the snow and posting a picture about it to social media as if you’re the first person to ever do that. No, go ahead, show us your outdoor beer cooler, we’ve never seen that before.

[H/T Food and Wine]