What Should You Do With the Food When the Refrigerator Stops Working?
Your refrigerator stops working, but life must go on!
You fridge may stop running if it is in serious need of repair, or if the power goes out. Whatever the reason, there’s a bigger problem: What to do with all the food in the fridge?
Keeping a cooler and ice packs within easy access gives those fridge-bound foods a second chance; they’ll need to stay cool in order to be safe enough to eat! If you must keep some of the food in the fridge while it isn’t running, limit the amount of time the fridge is opened in order to keep the cool air inside.
Go for a Cooler
The first thing you should do when a refrigerator stops working is find every cooler you have in the home. Load the coolers with ice, ice packs, or even those old frozen bags of peas to keep your perishable foods cool. (Throw away those frozen peas afterward, if they thaw.) Transfer the foods that require refrigeration out of the refrigerator into the cooler, packing them thoroughly within the ice or ice packs so they stay cool. Start with the foods you are most likely to use, rather than things that have been forgotten in the refrigerator for a long time; that way, you won’t end up with a cooler full of condiments while tomorrow night’s meal spoils. If you can’t fit everything into the coolers and aren’t able to buy or borrow another, enjoy a meal with the foods that may otherwise be discarded, provided you have a means to cook the foods requiring it.
How Long Will It Last?
Food left in a refrigerator that’s not running will stay cool for approximately four hours — less, if you frequently open the fridge. Keep the refrigerator door closed during this time if you don’t immediately have a cooler or ice on hand. This four-hour window allows you time to acquire a cooler or ice; beyond that, foods that typically require refrigeration have to be discarded. Any perishable food that has been above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours should be discarded. If the refrigerator has a freezer, food will last longer in the freezer section — 24 hours or longer without power (assuming the freezer door hasn’t been opened frequently), depending on how full the freezer is. The more frozen foods within the freezer, the longer the freezer stays cool. If the frozen food still has ice crystals or has an internal temperature below 40 degrees, it is safe to refreeze.
Perishable means the food requires refrigeration or it will spoil: milk, meat and fish are some examples of perishable foods. Cooked or prepared foods also are perishable. Some foods are safe long after the power goes out, such as raw, uncut fruits and vegetables, hard cheeses, bread and condiments.
Test the Temperature
If the refrigerator hasn’t been running for some time, testing the temperature both within the refrigerator and of the foods themselves helps determine whether the foods are safe to consume. A thermometer designed for the refrigerator or freezer should read 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower when placed within either the refrigerator or freezer. If the temperature reaches above 40 degrees for more than two hours in either area, the foods likely need to be discarded. If unsure, test foods with a food thermometer. The food or liquid should be under 40 degrees for safety; otherwise, harmful bacteria may multiply, making the food unsafe.
If your refrigerator stops working, keep your family’s food supply safe, then call A Same Day Appliance Repair at 813.563.2920 for convenient appliance repairs that are backed by a one-year warranty on parts and labor, as well as licensed, insured technicians, call or e-mail A Same Day Appliance Repair today. Weekday, weeknight, and weekend appointments are available. Check out our online specials, too.