Food Safety in Power Outage

Power outages are the result of the lack of electricity or energy to a specific area or location. Despite the best efforts from power generation stations, hydro companies or utilities, this kind of event is something that we?ve all experienced at one time or another in our lives.

While it might seem like our power just goes out at random, there are a few different reasons why these types of events occur. In fact, there actually several types of power outages you can experience including:

Permanent Fault ? this typically happens when there is a massive loss of power due to a power line short-circuiting. When this problem is isolated and corrected the power will immediately turn back on.

Brownout ? this type of power outage happens when the power supply drops in voltage. When the voltage drops, the lights in a building will often dim or lower. The result can have a negative affect on electrical equipment. For example, it can slow down a factory production line or cause the equipment in a production line to slow down.

Blackout ? this is the most difficult power outage to deal with. It means that there is a total loss of power to an area. The power can go out for a few minutes to a few weeks.

A great example of a blackout occurred in the summer of 2003. A massive power outage struck parts of the Northeastern and Midwestern United States as well as most of the province of Ontario in Canada. While some people got their power back after 7 hours, many had to do without for a few days. Other people living in some remote areas were forced to wait a whole week for their power to go back on!

It was one of the worst power outages to date due to how widespread it was, as well as because of the number of people affected. During this time, one of the main problems both businesses and residential buildings faced was food safety. Without power, many weren?t sure how or what to do when it came to food. Some businesses in particular were forced to learn a hard lesson about energy and impact it can have on the food they produce.

The following information provides some insight on what you can do at home to keep your food safe during a power outage. If you have a business in the food industry, we?ve also got some details on several different kinds os systems you can invest in to prevent significant food loss during a power outage.


There are several things home owners (and renters!) can do to ensure that their food doesn?t spoil during a power outage. These guidelines are a bit different from how businesses in the food industry deal with these types of situations. The reason for this is because residential buildings typically don?t have the same volume of food sitting in their refrigerators or freezers.

When the power goes out, the best thing to do is to keep your fridge and freezer doors closed. If you follow this rule, your food will stay safe for up to 4 hours. This is typically enough time for your local utility to fix the problem, and you will not need to throw anything away. However, if the power outage lasts for longer than 4 hours, it is probably best to get rid of your perishable items.


Appliance thermometers will help you to determine the exact temperature of your fridge or freezer. When the power goes out, remember to keep those appliance doors closed. When the power comes on again, you can check your appliance thermometers. You will need to throw away any meat, poultry, eggs, seafood or leftovers that were sitting in temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours or more.


If your power goes out for a while, buying block or dry ice can help to keep the food you currently have in your fridge or freezer cooler for longer. Again, checking the temperature and time will help you to know whether or not your food has spoiled.


In general, you should always keep a few canned good in your pantry or cupboards at all times. You never know when the power might go out, and if you want to keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed, opening a can of soup instead will help to keep your food safer, longer.


Battery powered generators are appliances that are available to help provide power to residential buildings during a power outage. Once installed, they will take care of starting and stopping when required using either electricity or gas. These kinds of systems will provide electricity to your home whether the power is out for a few minutes or several weeks.

The benefit to installing a home generator is that if you have a refrigerator or freezer full of food, it will never spoil because the generator will take care of providing the energy.


Whenever you experience a power outage, safety should always be your primary concern. While keeping flashlights, or candles and matches around is important it is also important not to take chances with your food. If you have any doubts about how long the power has been out, or whether or not to throw something away, it is always better to be safe than sorry. The last thing you want to do is give yourself food poisoning.


Food businesses or factories are belong to an industry that is impacted the most by power outages – of any kind. Permanent faults cause production lines to stop, brownouts create hiccups in equipment functionality and blackouts can cause product to spoil. Every business that handles food must take these kinds of events into consideration 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If they don’t, they can suffer from significant (and costly) production and product loss.

While many of the tips for businesses remain the same as residential (such as, keeping refrigerator and freezer doors closed) many of the systems, appliances or backup solutions are different.


Any business that produces food or handles food should really invest in a power generator. While the upfront costs might seem hefty, in the long run it will save your business the time and money you will most certainly lose if the power goes out and ruins your product.

In some cases, to provide backup power on such a large scale, these types of power generators can be very large and take up a lot of space. However, their function is a bit more complicated than a home power generator. Their primary purpose is to prevent food from spoiling, and to keep the operating lines and equipment running smoothly. These are two critical factors in saving your business time and money.


Cogeneration is another option businesses have in protecting their food from the negative impact of a power outage. Also known as combined heat and power, this technology will generate both electricity and heat more effectively than other methods. In fact, their primary purpose is to use all of the energy the system creates rather than letting some of it go to waste.

Cogeneration is currently popular within Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, and the United States. It is estimated that by 2030, increasing the number of cogeneration systems throughout businesses in the United States will have the same effect as removing 109 million cars from the road.

These systems can operate even during a power outage, which means that your food and operations will remain safe.


Using a combination of battery and solar power, some companies provide businesses with the ability to generate their own backup power. Tesla for example offers, Powerpack. This appliance gives buildings in the industry an opportunity to reduce their peak demand costs and consumption. It is a fully integrated system that will continue to work for years in many different ways. Using a backup power generation system like this is one of the many ways which you can ensure to keep your business running and your food safe in the event of a power outage.


Fuel cells change the energy found in hydrogen into electricity using only water and heat. It is through this chemical reaction that you can provide backup power to your business. These systems are mainly used for situations where you require low-power (max 10 kW) and therefore may not accommodate production requirements on a massive scale. In addition, these systems are often paired with a starter battery, while hydrogen is supplied via bottles, pipeline, and can also be produced on-site.