Georgia health officials offer food safety tips amid widespread outages

Frozen foods freezer

As massive power outages plagued Georgia homes and businesses, local health officials are warning residents not to eat spoiled foods.

DeKalb County health officials are asking people to inspect their freezer and refrigerator contents carefully once the power comes back on, as some food items may no longer be safe to eat.

Officials suggest residents take the following precautions to determine whether food items can be kept or thrown away:

• Never taste a food to determine its safety.

• Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about four hours if it is unopened.

  1. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full and the door remains closed). 
  2. Food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °F or below. 

• Obtain block ice or dry ice to keep your refrigerator and freezer as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic-foot full freezer for 2 days.

• If the power has been out for several days, then check the temperature of the freezer with an appliance thermometer or food thermometer. If the food still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °F or below, the food is safe.

• If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, then check each package of food to determine its safety. If the food still contains ice crystals, the food is safe.

• Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers, and deli items after four hours without power.

• When in Doubt, Throw it Out!

For more information, please visit DeKalb County's Environmental Health division’s website at or contact (404) 508-7900.