Loss of power in your restaurant could affect the safety of your customers and your employees. It is your responsibility as the owner or operator of the premise to ensure that the food you serve is safe and in the event of a power outage your employees know what to do.
Considerations during a power outage:
- Hot water. What’s the plan for hand washing if you rely on an electric hot water heater?
- Water supply. How will you receive water if on a private well and the pump is not working?
- Ventilation. How will smoke and fumes be removed if the fans are not working?
- Lighting. What’s the plan for food prep and proper utensil washing? And, what safety measures need to be taken when moving around in candlelight for both customers and employees?
One of your big concerns will be “is the food safe to eat during the power outage” and “is the food safe to eat after the power is restored?” The following tips are to help make sure your food is properly cared for if the power goes out.
Food in your refrigerator:
- Temperature should range between 0°Celsius to 4°Celsius in the refrigerator
- Take the guess work out of knowing if the temperature inside the refrigerator is safe. Ensure an accurate indicating thermometer is provided in each refrigerator and refer to it to verify proper temperatures
- Keep the refrigerator door closed! Without power, the refrigerator section will keep foods cool for four to six hours – if the door is kept closed.
- If possible, add bags of ice to the refrigerator to keep temperatures cooler for a longer period.
- When in doubt, throw it out! If you are not sure whether an item is spoiled, play it safe and throw it out. Eating unsafe foods may cause food-borne illness.
- Throw out perishable foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and leftovers that have been at temperatures above 4°Celsius for more than two hours.
- Throw out any food that is off-colour or has an off odour as soon as possible.
Food in your freezer:
- Temperature should be -18°Celsius or colder for the freezer section
- Take the guess work out of knowing if the temperature inside the freezer is safe. Ensure an accurate indicating thermometer is provided in each freezer and refer to it verify proper temperatures
- Keep the freezer door closed to maintain the temperature inside.
- Without power, an upright or chest freezer that is completely full will keep food frozen for about two days. A half-full freezer will keep food frozen for one day. Avoid opening and closing the freezer to check the food inside. When in doubt, throw it out!
- If possible, add bags of ice to the freezer to help keep the temperatures cooler for a longer period of time.
Never rely on appearance, smell or taste to tell if the food will make someone sick or not.