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Freezer Loses Power: How long will food last?  RSS feed

 
Michael Longfield
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Someone accidently flipped the breaker off for our barn freezer and freezer/fridge.  We had all kinds of meat and veggies.  We know that it was turned off for 5 days before it was turned back on.  Government website say that the food will be good for 48 hours while the ice melts, and any longer than that, everything should be thrown out.  I really hope this is not true.   Anybody have a good permie answer to this question? 

 
Mike Jay
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The new freezer I just bought said it was good for 72 hours of power outage.  If you have the owner's manual for yours it may say.  I'd assume the government is being conservative to cover any make/model of freezer. 

Maybe you can thaw out something that was at the top corner of the freezer and see if it's in good shape.  Heat rises so that should be the food that thawed out the most. 
 
Tyler Ludens
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The primary danger is that botulism can grow in the airless conditions of food packaged for freezing.  Botulism isn't de-toxified by cooking.  Please be safe, not sorry.

 
Devin Lavign
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Michael Longfield wrote:Someone accidently flipped the breaker off for our barn freezer and freezer/fridge.  We had all kinds of meat and veggies.  We know that it was turned off for 5 days before it was turned back on.  Government website say that the food will be good for 48 hours while the ice melts, and any longer than that, everything should be thrown out.  I really hope this is not true.   Anybody have a good permie answer to this question? 



Well the common sense answer would be, did you check the goods inside before it was turned back on? If stuff was still frozen then your good, if it had thawed then you likely should toss it.

Also was this a chest freezer or a vertical freezer? Chest freezers tend to be better designed for staying well insulated and keeping the cold inside.

Another thought, how full was the freezer. A full freezer will hold it's cold much longer than a 1/4 full one. Since a full freezer has stored much more cold energy inside, while the 1/4 full one has a lot more air space that can warm up quickly.
 
Denise Kersting
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Hi,
Do you have homeowner's insurance? You might be able to file a claim for the damaged products. I know when we have lost power due to storms etc., that was covered, but I don't know if it would be covered by an accidental shutdown, might be worth checking into. It's possible you could get re-embursed for what you have lost. Best of luck to you!
 
Michael Longfield
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Thank you for all your help.  There was one chest freezer (about 3/4 full), and one upright freezer/fridge (about 3/4 full).  Everything was completely thawed out when the first person noticed the incident.  I may consider looking into insurance compensation.  Now that I know botulism is not destroyed by cooking, I will probably not eat any of the food.  That sucks....
 
Tyler Ludens
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Michael Longfield wrote: I will probably not eat any of the food.  That sucks....


Please don't eat any of it.
 
Michael Longfield
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The botulism is killed by high heat.  I wonder if there are other unhealthy byproducts that are just not good for you but won't make you sick from the potential beginning stages of breakdown.

"Botulism is an illness resulting from the ingestion of toxins secreted from the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. It is the toxin produced by the bacteria that causes the symptoms in humans. Clostridium botulinum is an obligate anaerobe, which means it prefers conditions with low oxygen. This is why it can grow in sealed cans. Clostridium botulinum form spores that allow the bacteria to survive under non-ideal environmental conditions. These spores can survive harsh conditions like boiling water and cold temperatures. If someone is diagnosed with botulism, the treatment usually involves administration of an antibody or an antitoxin drug, plus hospitalization. To answer your question, bleach and sodium hydroxide (strong base) will kill the bacteria (but obviously you wouldnt want to pour bleach or sodium hydroxide on your food to decontaminate it). C. botulinum spores can be killed by heating to extreme temperature (120 degrees Celsius) under pressure using an autoclave or a pressure cooker at for at least 30 minutes. The toxin itself can be killed by boiling for 10 minutes."

http://scienceline.ucsb.edu/getkey.php?key=1307
 
Tyler Ludens
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My mistake about botulism toxin:  "Because botulinum toxin is destroyed by high temperatures, persons who eat home-canned foods should consider boiling the food for 10 minutes before eating it to ensure safety."

http://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/Botulism/clinicians/control.asp
 
Denise Kersting
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I could be way off here (so please correct me if I'm wrong, i'd like to learn too) I thought botulism was the canned product gone bad thing, does it also affect things that have been frozen and thawed? I'm really interested to know, we are looking at getting a chest freezer, but that was one of the things I didn't think we would have to battle with freezing.
 
Devin Lavign
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Denise Kersting wrote:I could be way off here (so please correct me if I'm wrong, i'd like to learn too) I thought botulism was the canned product gone bad thing, does it also affect things that have been frozen and thawed? I'm really interested to know, we are looking at getting a chest freezer, but that was one of the things I didn't think we would have to battle with freezing.


It is pretty much all over the place just waiting for the right conditions to grow. Canning is one of the common places where folks worry about it and discuss it as it is a primary problem with incorrect canning. However if you leave a tomato out sliced on the counter for several days you likely will have grown botulism on it.

You can have it in thawed foods, foods in a fridge, foods left on a counter, etc...
 
Denise Kersting
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Devin Lavign wrote:
Denise Kersting wrote:I could be way off here (so please correct me if I'm wrong, i'd like to learn too) I thought botulism was the canned product gone bad thing, does it also affect things that have been frozen and thawed? I'm really interested to know, we are looking at getting a chest freezer, but that was one of the things I didn't think we would have to battle with freezing.


It is pretty much all over the place just waiting for the right conditions to grow. Canning is one of the common places where folks worry about it and discuss it as it is a primary problem with incorrect canning. However if you leave a tomato out sliced on the counter for several days you likely will have grown botulism on it.

You can have it in thawed foods, foods in a fridge, foods left on a counter, etc...


Ack! Thank you, I was not aware of that, I hope we haven't tested the waters that much and haven't ever really risked that, but I certainly will be vigilant not to in the future! Much Appreciated, hope I didn't derail the topic.
 
Devin Lavign
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Denise Kersting wrote:
Devin Lavign wrote:
Denise Kersting wrote:I could be way off here (so please correct me if I'm wrong, i'd like to learn too) I thought botulism was the canned product gone bad thing, does it also affect things that have been frozen and thawed? I'm really interested to know, we are looking at getting a chest freezer, but that was one of the things I didn't think we would have to battle with freezing.


It is pretty much all over the place just waiting for the right conditions to grow. Canning is one of the common places where folks worry about it and discuss it as it is a primary problem with incorrect canning. However if you leave a tomato out sliced on the counter for several days you likely will have grown botulism on it.

You can have it in thawed foods, foods in a fridge, foods left on a counter, etc...


Ack! Thank you, I was not aware of that, I hope we haven't tested the waters that much and haven't ever really risked that, but I certainly will be vigilant not to in the future! Much Appreciated, hope I didn't derail the topic.


Just to clarify, the spores can grow in a oxygen environment but the actual toxin they produce that is deadly is only produced when the spores are in an oxygen poor environment.

While it is commonly found all over the place in soil and water etc... actual infection from Botulism is fairly rare. It is however a very powerful toxin, only taking one microgram to be deadly. Which is part of why there is so much stress on preventing it. And it is easy to kill off with heat. So while scary sounding don't stress too much.
 
Michael Longfield
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So if all the potential bad stuff can be killed off by heat, if I just heat the food up well, what's the worst that could happen?  When I try thawing some of the meat I will look out for bad odors, in which case I will cook it up for dog food. 

Thanks again!
 
Annie Lochte
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I use my nose. Thaw something... If it smells the slightest bit off it's no deal here... Compost it. If it smells normal cook it and pressure can the rest ASAP.
 
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