How Long Can Food Last In The Freezer Without Power (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 24 – 48 Hours

Sometimes when there is extremely stormy weather outside, one is everywhen afraid that the electricity may go off. Emergencies can happen anytime in such extreme conditions. A situation like this can put the food items inside one’s refrigerator and fridge at risk if the power inadvertently goes out.

A brief power-cut lasting only for a few minutes would not affect the quality of food kept in the fridge or the freezer. However, when the electricity outages last for several hours or days, then the food quality comes at a risk.

The answer to how long can food last without power depends on how long does the fridge stays cold without the electricity powering it, and at what point does bacteria growth becomes a threat to the food kept inside. Because when the power is gone for too long, one has no option but to toss certain items away when they become unfit for consumption.

How Long Can Food Last In The Freezer Without Power?

ConditionDuration
Food in the freezer24 – 48 hours
Food in the refrigerator4 hours

Without power, a refrigerator will likely remain at a safe temperature for up to 4 hours if the refrigerator is kept tightly shut. During this period there is no threat to the quality of food inside. Food in the freezer can stay cold for even longer. The food can last for about a day if the freezer is half full and about 48 hours if it is full as the more food there is inside, the more cold is retained.

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However, it is crucial to remember not to be tempted to check on the food every few minutes, as this will accelerate the increase in temperature inside and thereby increasing the chances of the food getting spoiled. It is essential to keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed during power outages to maintain the cold temperature inside.

During a power outage, one can use appliance thermometers in the refrigerator and freezer to help determine whether the food is safe or not. The normal temperature of the refrigerator should be 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, and for the freezer, it should be 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

Why Does The Food Last This Long In The Freezer Without Power?

Some food items like dairy and meats start to look or smell bad if the power has gone out for more than a few hours. For items in the freezer to be safe to refreeze or prepare for consumption, they should have an internal temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If foods like meats, eggs, or leftovers have been above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours, it is usually the time to throw them out.

Checking the actual temperature of the food in your refrigerator will ultimately tell one what is safe to eat. However, some things can be refrozen if they have ice crystals or the temperature feels cold like they have been in the fridge

A full freezer can keep the temperature inside the freezer cold without power for approximately 48 hours if the door remains closed whereas the temperature remains cool for 24 hours if the freezer was half full. One can buy dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period. Fifty pounds of dry ice can keep an 18 cubic foot, fully stocked freezer cold for about two days.

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If one plans to eat refrigerated or frozen meat, poultry, fish, or eggs while they are still at safe temperatures, it is of utmost importance that each item is cooked to a safe internal temperature to ensure that any foodborne bacteria that may be present in them are destroyed.

Conclusion

When it comes to how long will the food last in the freezer without power, many items including meat, seafood, frozen meals should be tossed if their temperature is higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours.

To avoid food waste, it is wise to eat the most perishable items in the refrigerator first, such as leftovers, meat, poultry, and foods containing milk, soft cheese, cream, or sour cream, assuming their temperatures indicate that they are safe to consume.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140700712001181
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960308516300293

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