Millions of East Coasters are without power today due to the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. While the storm may be over, there may be another threat brewing behind closed doors – of your refrigerator.
When the power goes out, your food safety awareness should remain on - just like your flashlights. Knowing how to properly store food and water before, during and after natural disasters like Irene can significantly reduce your chances of foodborne illnesses.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) offered the following recommendations to determine if your food is safe and how to keep it as such:
And without stating the obvious, the FSIS says "when in doubt, throw it out." A taste-test is counterintuitive.
If you're one of the lucky ones who escaped Irene's path of destruction but may have hoarded 10 loaves of bread, 20 cans of Vienna sausages and 50 water bottles preparing for the worst, the American Red Cross and several other organizations, including Feeding America's network of food banks, are organizing relief efforts. To find your local food bank for goods donations, visit the Feeding America Web site - or for how to donate relief funds, contact your local Red Cross or visit the American Red Cross Web site.
Related - How to help victims of Irene