Your refrigerator and freezer keep your food fresh and safe to eat. If they break down it can not only be an inconvenience but also pose some serious safety risks to your family due to the possibility of your food spoiling. When kept at temperatures higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, many foods can become a breeding ground for bacteria and food borne illnesses. However, throwing all of your cold and frozen foods away due to a broken appliance is costly and wasteful.
If you are waiting on a refrigerator repair, use these handy tips for determining the safety of the food in your fridge and freezer to keep your family -and your grocery budget – protected.
When to Worry About Food Safety
If your fridge or freezer just stopped working and you notice immediately, take note of the temperature. Your fridge should be below 40 degrees and your freezer should be colder than 30 degrees. If you keep them both closed with the doors tightly sealed the temperature should hold steady for around 4 hours. If you can get the issue repaired within that time frame, then you should have no concerns about the safety of your food. Everything should have remained at a safe temperature.
However, if your repair takes longer than 4 hours, or you did not notice the issue until your fridge or freezer had already gotten warmer than 40 degrees, there is the possibility that some of the food will need to be discarded because it is potentially unsafe to eat. This is especially true if your food was allowed to be over 40 degrees for more than 2 hours, as bacteria had time to grow to hazardous levels before the food was returned to a safe temperature.
Whether or not a particular food item is safe to eat depends on whether it was refrigerated or frozen and what type of food it is.
If the inside of your refrigerator remained cooled than 40 degrees, your food should be perfectly safe to eat. However, if your fridge became warmer than 40 degrees for a time longer than 2 hours, refer to this list to determine which foods you should keep and which foods you should throw out.
Refrigerated Foods to Keep
• Hard or processed cheese
• Fruit Juice
• Fresh Whole Fruits
• Open Condiments (except fish or oyster sauce)
• Breads, cakes, waffles, bagels
• Fresh whole vegetables, herbs and spices
• Fruit Pies
Refrigerated Foods to Discard
• Prepared foods
• Raw or cooked meat
• Lunch meat
• Soft or shredded cheese
• Milk products
• Baby formula
• Dairy-based desserts
• Cut fruit
• Cookie dough, refrigerated rolls or biscuits
• Cream-based sauces and dressings
If your freezer is full, your food should be safe for at least 48 hours as long as the door remains shut. If it is half full then it should remain safe for 24 hours. In general, frozen food should remain safe as long as it still has ice crystals and maintains a temperature of 40 degrees or below. If those conditions are met, you can refreeze the food with no safety concerns. If not, refer to this list about what foods are safe to keep and what should be thrown out.
Frozen Foods Safe to Refreeze
• Fruit juices
• Hard cheese
• Packaged fruit
• Bread products, rolls, muffins
• Pie crusts
• Waffles, pancakes, bagels
• Flour, nuts, dry goods
Frozen Foods to Discard
• Meat and seafood
• Dairy products
• Vegetable juice
• Packaged vegetables
• Dairy Desserts
• Frozen meals
Refrigerator and Freezer Repair Services
MAS – Electronics offers repair services for many brands of refrigerators and freezers. Our Duluth-based repair shop provides quality repairs with a 24-hour turnaround time and lifetime warranty. We also offer a convenient mail-in service to repair broken parts. Contact MAS – Electronics or all of your appliance repair needs by calling (678) 228-8422.