How Long Can Food Last In The Refrigerator Without Power?

Remember that episode from FRIENDS where Joey eats all the food in the refrigerator after it breaks down? Well, only Joey could do that because of his voracious appetite and love for food he had. Joey doesn’t share food. Then, why would let it go to waste?

That’s the thing. Would you eat everything in your refrigerator if it breaks down somehow? This should make you ponder how long food can last in the refrigerator without power.

How many hours do you exactly have before everything goes rogue?

Spoiler alert: The answer is 4 hours.

Your fridge can maintain cool temperatures for 4 hours if it remains closed. A full freezer can last up to 48 hours and 24 hours in case it is half full.

As long as the temperatures inside the refrigerator are 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, your items are safe. When the temperature increases, the deterioration will begin.

The first thing to go bad is your dairy products like milk, butter, cheese. Once the cooling goes off, milk and cheese will get sour and butter rancid. 

Protein products like meat, etc will also begin to rot. Cut fruit will spoil. These things will only be good for two more hours.

Obviously, ice will begin to melt as soon as the power goes off and water will also lose its cool once the failure happens. If you have any ice creams, eat them before they melt.

You can save bread, uncut fruits and vegetables, jams, ketchup pickles, vinegar based dressing and stuff like that. According to USDA. if the temperature of the food is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, food can be frozen.

Here are a few precautions you should take if ever such an emergency happens:

  • Keep the door of the refrigerator closed as much as possible. Opening the fridge unnecessarily will hamper the temperature inside.
  • Do not check the condition of food by tasting it.
  • Always maintain optimum temperatures inside the fridge. While the freezer should be set below zero degrees, the fridge temperature should be maintained at or below 4 degrees Fahrenheit. Invest in a good refrigerator thermometer.


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