Updated in July 2015 by the Manitoba Association of Home Economists
Power outages can occur at any time during the year, so it is important to know what to do in terms of food safety when the power goes out. What is the proper temperature at which foods must be held to remain safe to eat? How long will frozen foods stay frozen? How do you make sure that foods are cooked properly and to the right temperature when using alternate cooking methods? These are all things to consider.
It is recommended that refrigerators and freezers be kept closed at all times during a power outage. If they do need to be opened, this should be kept to a minimum. Food in a freezer that is full should be safe for 2 days, 1 day if it is half full. Food in refrigerators will be kept cold for a short period of time. There should be a thermometer in the fridge and freezer at all times to monitor the temperature. Refrigerator temperature should be 4°C (40°F) or less and freezer temperature should be -18°C (0°F) or less.
Thawed foods that still contain ice crystals can be refrozen. However, do not refreeze frozen dinners, ice cream, fish and shellfish.
Because there is an increased risk of food becoming contaminated or spoiled, one must take extra care in food preparation. Choose foods that can be prepared quickly and require less heat. For example, slice meat thinly so it will cook more quickly and completely. Stir frequently to distribute the heat evenly. Raw chicken should be cooked to 80°C (180°F), beef and pork to 70°C (160°F) and eggs should be cooked until yolk and white are firm. Canned foods are a good option, as they do not require heating.
Alternative cooking methods include the fireplace, candle warmers, and fondue pots. Fuel-burning camp stoves, gas or coal barbecues or charcoal burners can also be used, but should never be used in the house. Fumes from these stoves can be deadly.
Discard any perishable food if kept over two hours at above 4°C (40°F). This would include the following:
WRITTEN BY THE PUBLIC HEALTH NUTRITIONISTS OF SASKATCHEWAN
Originator: Cathy Knox
The Sanitation Code for Canada’s Foodservice Industry by Canadian Restaurant and Food Services Association.
“Food Safety During a Power Failure,” Journal unknown, Volume 1, Issue 5.
Reviewed by the Public Health Inspectors, Swift Current Health District.
On June 13, 2015, Health Canada’s (HC’s) Proposed Regulations governing changes to Nutrition and Food Labelling were published in Canada Gazette I. The Ontario Home Economics Association (OHEA) chose to respond by forming a committee of eight Professional Home Economists with diverse backgrounds, areas and levels of expertise. All members brought exceptional professional insight to the table through individual review, research into published studies, pooling of pertinent information and group discussion. This culminated in a carefully constructed response to HC.
The following recommendations were made on behalf of OHEA:
Proposed Revisions to Reference Amounts in the Food and Drug Regulations, and Mandatory Application of said Reference Amounts as Standardized Serving Sizes in the Nutrition Facts Table
OHEA accepted the standardization of amount of food declared in the Nutrition Facts table (NFt) but rejected the use of consumption data to determine the Reference Amounts (RA) of food, which, as proposed in this regulatory amendment, would mandate serving size. The primary reason for the opposition was the documented association between portion distortion and either overweightness or obesity. Accordingly, the following recommendations were made:
Proposed Revisions to Core Nutrients in the Nutrition Facts Table, to % Daily Values declared in the Nutrition Facts Table, and, to formatting the Nutrition Facts Table
OHEA accepted declaration of the serving size in both household and metric measure; mandatory inclusion of potassium; removal of mandatory inclusion of vitamin A and C; withdrawal of mandatory % DV for vitamin D as proposed in the 2014 consultation; addition of % Daily Value (DV) for total sugars; removal of “Amount/Tenure”; inclusion of a 5% DV/15% DV footer explanation; larger font for calories; a truncated bold line under calories; and further formatting using bold lines. Rejections of the quantification of micronutrients other than sodium and the removal of % DV for carbohydrate and dietary fibre were voiced, with the following recommendations:
Proposed Revisions to the Recommended Daily Intakes of Core Nutrition Facts Table Nutrients and Proposed Revisions to the Nutrition Facts Table Formatting
OHEA accepted alignment of the % DV’s with the U.S. Institute of Medicine recommendations, and a separate NFt for each of children under 12 months, and children aged one to four years. Also accepted was the proposed % DV of total sugars in the NFt. The committee recommended retention of the current Recommended Daily Intake and % DV for fat at 65 g, noting Statistics Canada’s finding that the rising rates of obesity are in part contributed to fat intake raising average caloric intake.
Proposed Regulations to Standardize the Formatting of the List of Ingredients
OHEA accepted the proposals of standardized formatting; contrast of font and background in the List of Ingredients (LOI); mandatory listing of food colours by name; mandatory listing of food allergens in the Contains statement; and grouping of sugar-based ingredients together in the LOI. Recommendations to improve the LOI included:
Proposed Health Claim
OHEA supported the health claim, “A healthy diet rich in a variety of vegetables and fruit may help reduce the risk of heart disease.”, accepting the scientific evidence cited by HC.
OHEA, as professionals who assist families and individuals to achieve and maintain a desirable quality of life believe that “Knowing the nutritional status of a country provides direction on the priorities and programs that will update the overall health of a nation.” (Starkey, Johnson-Down, Gray-Donald, 2001), thus OHEA encourages Health Canada to seize this opportunity to improve the health of all Canadians.