Health and Wellness: Severe weather and food safety

Ann Cochran - Dallas County Health Department
Special to Dallas County News and Perry Chief

What’s the connection between severe weather and food? Think about some possible conditions during and after storms and floods. At this time of the year, thunderstorms and tornados can cause loss of electrical power, and the same can happen during winter snowstorms. Food can spoil or become contaminated when unrefrigerated, or exposed to flood water that is full of toxic substances like sewage or chemicals.

If the power goes off for more than a few hours, your refrigerated food supply could spoil. Food in freezers can last up to 48 hours if the freezer is fairly full and the door remains closed. Running to the store to buy fresh food may not work if the power outage was long and wide-spread, because your local store suffered loss of electricity too.

After a weather disaster or emergency, throw away perishable food that didn’t stay at refrigerator temperature (40o) constantly. Also throw away food that may have come in contact with floodwater or stormwater, such as anything in non-waterproof packages. Screw-caps, snap lids, pull tops and crimped tops are not waterproof, nor is meat wrapped in plastic. If any food has an unusual odor, color or texture, throw it out. https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep-food-safe/food-safety-in-disaster-or-emergency