Friday, September 01, 2006

Dead Refrigerator / Freezer

If they turn off your electricity, the linked tables below will help you determine what is salvageable in your refrigerator and what you should donate to your upstairs neighbor. It’s a sad list. The entry, “Pizza – with any topping…discard” is so poignant that it actually makes me get teary-eyed.

These tables can be found on the internet at a USDA site called “Emergency Preparedness: Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency”. As they say in the Fact Sheet, “Always keep meat, poultry, fish, and eggs refrigerated at or below 40 ºF and frozen food at or below 0 ºF. This may be difficult when the power is out.” Amen, brother.

One of the things I find interesting is that, according to the Refrigerated Food table, dried beef (e.g.) should be thrown out if “held above 40°F for over 2 hours”, but the jar of opened mayonnaise that I use to frighten schoolchildren should be discarded “if above 50 °F for over 8 hrs”. Hah. About Hour 6 at 50°, I want to have the person who created this table over for snacks. I’ll eat the dried beef and serve him or her the mayonnaise.

In the Frozen Food table, the comment about discarding the food if “mold, yeasty smell, or sliminess develops” is particularly well-put, I think. This also applies to girlfriends, in my opinion.

Live Refrigerator / Freezer

If your refrigerator and freezer are working, another USDA web page, “National Food Safety Education Month, September 2002: Cold Storage Chart”, can help you determine how long to keep chilled food. They include a note with the table, which I reproduce here:

“These short but safe time limits will help keep refrigerated foods from spoiling or becoming dangerous to eat. Because freezing keeps food safe indefinitely, recommended storage times are for quality only. Storage times are from date of purchase unless specified on chart. It is not important if a date expires after food is frozen.”

I did not know before reading this that freezing keeps food safe indefinitely. I always imagined that most foods would go off at some point. Thanks, guys (seriously). I also didn’t know that you could freeze milk. Hunh.

On the same web page they include a toll-free number you can call if you need to. If in doubt, please use it. I want you around to read my blog:

FDA Food Information Line: 1 (888) SAFEFOOD (toll-free)

I’m curious about the “Live clams, mussels, crab, lobster and oysters” entry. Apparently, they do okay in the freezer for two to three months. I have to think that they might get a little testy after the first month, however. Maybe you should throw in a deck of cards or something, just so they don’t get bored.

- Hulles

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