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City of Hamilton - Public Health Services

During a Power Outage - Food Safety


Food in the fridge should be safe as long as power is back on within a few hours. After that you may have to discard most foods. See list below for the types of food that should be thrown out.


  • You can’t rely on appearance or odour
  • Never taste food to determine its safety
  • Some foods may look and smell fine, but if they have been in the fridge for too many  hours without electricity-  or at room temperature too long (over two hours), food poisoning bacteria may have multiplied enough to cause illness if eaten.


If above 4 Degrees Celsius (40 Degrees Farenheit)  for more than TWO hours:

  • Non-vacuum packed deli meats (cold cuts)
  • Soft cheeses
  • Weiners
  • Cooked dishes such as pasta, casseroles, stew, baked potatoes
  • Raw ground meat including beef, pork, and chicken
  • Fish and other Seafood (unless smoked or cured or pickled)
  • Eggs
  • Milk, cream, yogourt
  • Opened baby formula
  • Garlic in oil or butter

If above 4 Degrees Celsius (40 Degrees Farenheit)  for more than FOUR  hours:

  • Hard cheeses
  • Solid pieces of meat such as steaks or roasts


KEEP THE FREEZER CLOSED. Keep what cold air you have inside. Don’t open the door/lid any more than necessary. A full freezer will stay at freezing temperature for two days; a half full freezer for about 1 day. Frozen food can be refrozen if ice crystalls are still present. Some foods may lose some flavour but they will be safe to eat.

If your freezer is not full you can do one transfer of food from your fridge to your freezer to keep those foods cold- but do it quickly and shut the door/lid right away.

For more information contact
The Health Protection Branch at
(905) 546-3570