Food Safety During Power Outages (Retail Facilities)

Food Safety During Power Outages (Retail Facilities)
Public Health Department
Cathy A. Raevsky, Director
Mark A. Lundberg, M.D., M.P.H., Health Of-
Environmental Health
202 Mira Loma Drive
Oroville, California 95965
T: 530.538.7281
F: 530.538.7994
- RETAIL FOOD FACILITIES This Food Safety Notice is being issued by the Butte County Public Health Department to provide
guidance to the retail food industry. It was developed through the collaborative efforts of the Retail
Food Industry, food safety experts at the University of California at Davis, the California Conference of
Directors of Environmental Health, California Conference of Local Health Officers, and the California
Department of Health Services.
Butte County is experiencing an electrical power outage. Appropriate decision-making before, during,
and immediately after power outages is necessary to protect consumers from unsafe food and minimize product loss. The Department recommends that food retailers develop a plan and obtain appropriate emergency supplies before the need rises.
The food items of concern are those that are potentially hazardous foods (PHF). Generally, PHF are
moist, perishable foods in and on which bacteria can grow most easily during the time when the food
is held in the temperature danger zone (41°F to 135°F).
 Note the time at which the power outage begins.
 Discard food products that are in the process of being cooked, but which have not yet reached
the final temperature.
Actions That Can Keep Food Safe for Several Hours
Cold Potentially Hazardous Foods
Hot Potentially Hazardous Foods
 Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed
 Use ice and/or ice baths to rapidly cool
as much as possible
 If practical, group packages of cold food together to reduce heat gain
 Cover open refrigerated and frozen food
cases, especially vertical displays
 Caution: The use of dry ice may result in
unsafe build-up of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide).
small batches of hot food
 Do not place hot foods in refrigerators or
 Use "canned heat" under foods on electric
steam tables to help maintain PHF at 135°F
Food Safety During Temporary Power Outages
April 6, 2015
Page -2-
Discontinue Food Preparation If Any of the Following Conditions Exist
 Inability to properly wash, rinse and sani-
 Lack of sufficient light in food preparation
tize utensils
areas to allow for safe food preparation
and cleaning and sanitizing of food contact
 Inoperative hood ventilation and make-up
air supply systems in conjunction with gas
or solid fuel heating and cooking equipment
 No hot water, inadequate water pressure
 Unsafe food temperatures (see tables be-
(Danger: Toxic fumes may cause injury or
 Identify PHF that may have been in the temperature danger zone
 Check the internal food temperature
 If practical, separate packages of food in refrigeration units and freezers to allow for faster recooling
Refrigerated Potentially Hazardous Food
Food Temperatures
Duration of Power
Outage (in hours)
460F to 500F
PHF can be sold
Cool PHF to 410F or below
within 2 hours
PHF can be sold, but must be
cooled to 410F or below within 2
Cool PHF to 410F or below
within 1 hour
Immediately cool PHF to 410F or
below within 1 hour
PHF cannot be sold
More than 500F
PHF cannot be sold
Potentially Hazardous Food in Hot Holding Units
Use the following table to determine what to do with PHF that is held in hot holding units and below
135°F at the time the power is restored:
During Power Outage
2 hours or less
More than 2 hours
Food below 1350F in Hot Holding Units When Power is Restored
May be sold if reheated to 1650F and then hold at 1350F or above, or
May be sold if rapidly cooled to 410F or below within 2 hours following restoration of power
PHF cannot be sold
Food Safety During Temporary Power Outages
April 6, 2015
Page -3-
If you voluntarily closed your facility, the following conditions should be verified prior to resuming
food preparation and/or sale of potentially hazardous foods:
1. All unsafe potentially hazardous food has been discarded
2. Electricity and gas services have been restored
3. All circuit breakers have been properly reset as needed
4. All equipment and facilities are operating properly, including:
Toilet facilities
Hot holding
5. Hot (minimum 120º F, except hand washing 100-108º F) and cold potable water, under pressure for:
 Proper dishwashing
Hand washing
6. Note: If your facility was closed by the Public Health Department, it must remain closed until
you obtain approval from the Public Health Department to reopen.
PHF that has been subjected to unsafe temperatures prior to the power outage might not be safe to
eat even if the procedures in the tables on the previous page are followed.
If it is determined that food must be discarded, document the type and amount of food and
the reason for disposal for insurance and regulatory purposes.
Small volumes of food to be discarded can be denatured with a cleaning product (such as
bleach) and placed in the outside refuse bin.
To discard large volumes of food, contact your refuse disposal company or your local landfill
operator for disposal instructions.
If there are any questions regarding the safety of specific foods, contact your local environmental health agency.
When In Doubt, Throw It Out!!
Questions or Additional Information?
Contact butte county public health department staff at: (530) 538-7281 during normal working hours,
8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
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