What food should be discarded after a power outage?

What food should be discarded after a power outage?

To avoid any chance of food poisoning, you need to sort through all items stored in the fridge and freezer following a power outage.


Use a refrigerator thermometer to check the temperature in your fridge. It should be between 0°C and 4°C.

At these temperatures, food will stay cold for only 4-6 hours if the fridge door remains closed.

After six hours without electricity, you need to sort through the food stored in the fridge.

To keep

Milk products

  • Butter and margarine
  • Firm cheese blocks (cheddar, swiss, mozzarella, etc.)
  • Parmesan
  • Cheese slices
  • Processed cheese
  • Yogurt, unopened container

Fruit and vegetables

  • Whole fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Pasteurized fruit juice


  • Cookies
  • Muffins
  • Baked pies and cakes

Condiments and spreads

  • Peanut butter
  • Jam
  • Jelly
  • Ketchup
  • Marinade
  • Marmalade
  • Store-bought mayo
  • Mustard
  • Olives
  • Relish
  • Sauces (taco, barbecue, salad dressing)
  • Spread
  • Vinaigrette

To throw out

Do not take any chances if food appears fishy: when in doubt, throw it out!

Here is what needs to make its way to the trash or compost.

Milk products

  • Cream
  • Cream cheese
  • Soft cheese
  • Milk
  • Breast milk
  • Yogurt, opened container

Fruit and vegetables

  • Unpasteurized fruit juice
  • Fruit juice, opened container
  • Cooked veggies
  • Cut raw veggies
  • Coleslaw


  • Eggs or liquid eggs
  • Quiche
  • Salad containing meat, poultry or fish
  • Meat, poultry or fish, cooked or uncooked


  • Cooked pasta
  • Fresh pasta
  • Pasta sauce


  • All meat- or cream-based soups


  • Pastry cream
  • Dessert with cream


  • Garlic in oil
  • Homemade mayo
  • Horseradish
  • Oyster sauce
  • Tartar sauce


If your freezer is full and working well, its contents can be kept for 48 hours with no power. Shelf life drops to one day if the freezer is only half full.

Shelf life also varies depending on freezer model. Combined fridge-freezer models preserve food for a shorter length of time. By contrast, a chest freezer claims up to 72 hours of food preservation.

The temperature of the room where your freezer is located also plays a role in food preservation. The cooler, the better.

Throw out any spoiled or questionable food when the power comes back on.

To keep

If the temperature in the freezer remains at or below 4°C, raw and defrosted food can be cooked and then quickly consumed.

You could even refreeze items once they are cooked.

Hard cheese, bread, muffins, unfrosted cake and cookies can be refrozen, even if already thawed.

Slightly defrosted food

It can be refrozen, as long as the centre is still hard.

To throw out

Meat, poultry, fish and seafood, milk products, eggs have to be discarded if the freezer’s interior temperature reaches 4°C or higher.

Food prepared in a slow cooker

Sorry! You should throw out any food being cooked in a slow cooker that has shut off due to a power failure.

Are you insured?

Did you know that your home insurance could provide coverage if you lose the contents of your fridge and freezer due to a power failure?

Check with your insurance company to verify if you have this coverage. If that is the case, they will inform you how to make a claim.