What to do with refrigerated food during a power outage

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So how long will the food stay cold and bacteria-free in the refrigerator during a power outage?

Food kept in an unopened refrigerator is unlikely to spoil within four hours, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Food stored in an unopened freezer will remain safe to eat for 48 hours.

So, how can you best prepare?

With the PG&E shut-offs lasting days, placing dry or block ice inside the refrigerator is one solution to keeping food cold for longer, according to the USDA. Besides grocery stores such as Safeway and big box stores like Walmart, there are a handful of dry ice specialty stores in Sonoma County.

The USDA recommends throwing away eggs, meat and poultry if they're stored at room temperature (40 degrees or higher) for more than two hours. The same rule applies to cooked pasta, rice and potatoes.

Most items in the freezer are safe to refreeze if they remain cold and the packaging still contains ice crystals. Ice cream and frozen yogurt are the exception and should be thrown away.

Click through the gallery for what foods to keep or throw away after a power outage. Click here for more USDA food safety recommendations during a natural disaster.

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