FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Herbert J. Yardley, M.A., R.E.H.S.
Department of Environmental and Public Health Services
973-579-0370, Ext. 1245
Sussex County Department of Environmental and Public Health Services Advises
Food Establishments and Residents to Practice Food Safety
During the Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy
(Newton, NJ - November 2, 2012) - The Sussex County Department of Environmental and Public Health Services is advising all food establishments and residents to practice food safety following the massive power outages affecting the area due to severe weather caused by Hurricane Sandy.
Restaurants and other food establishments without power are only permitted to serve pre-packaged/pre-wrapped food items. All businesses and residents must take measures to avoid serving or consuming food that may be unsafe. Even if food does not smell bad, and even if it looks safe, it may have been out of a safe temperature range long enough to have become contaminated with dangerous bacteria.
Public health experts are available to answer questions about food and water safety and general environmental health information, including mold removal by calling the state's 2-1-1 system. The 2-1-1 human services hotline is open 24/7. New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) staff will be available by calling 1-866-234-0964 from 8 am to 8 pm on weekdays and 10 am to 5 pm on weekends.
The County Health Department recommends these food safety tips:
About food in a freezer:
- Without power, a full upright or chest freezer will keep everything frozen for about two days. A half-full freezer will keep food frozen for about one day.
- If power will be coming back on fairly soon, you can make the food last longer by keeping the door shut as much as possible.
- If power will be off for an extended period, if possible, take food to friends' freezers.
About food in a refrigerator/freezer:
- Without power, the refrigerator section will keep food cool for 4-6 hours depending on the kitchen temperature.
- A full, well-functioning freezer unit should keep food frozen for two days. A half-full freezer unit should keep things frozen for about one day.
- Discard perishable foods like eggs, meat, fish, or milk that has been above 41 degrees for more than four to six hours.
About thawed food:
- Food still containing ice crystals or that feels refrigerator-cold can be refrozen.
- Discard any thawed food that has risen to room temperature and remained there for two hours or more.
- Immediately discard any food with a strange color or odor.
- Finally, the best advice is "if in doubt, throw it out."
- If anyone has a concern about food they have eaten in a restaurant that lost power, please call the Sussex County Department of Environmental and Public Health Services at 973-579-0370.
For more information, please visit the Sussex County Department of Environmental and Public Health Services website at www.sussex.nj.us/health. You can also visit the New Jersey Department of Health website at www.nj.gov/health .