With some households in the region facing two or more days without electricity, it will be important to take care with food from the fridge and freezer.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) Medical Officer of Health, Dr David Sinclair, is advising people without power to follow guidelines around food spoilage to avoid food poisoning.

“After today, highly perishable foods in the fridge like meat and fish may not be safe to eat,” he said.

  • Throw out rotten or contaminated food quickly so it doesn’t spoil other food in the fridge. 
  • You can still eat food like raw vegetables, cheese and bread.
  • Dispose of any food from the freezer which has thawed out and been at room temperature for longer than two hours.
  • When the power comes back on, it is important not to refreeze food that has defrosted. 
  • If the frozen food has ice crystals and the packaging is intact then it can be refrozen.

“And if you are unsure, have a closer look and smell. If the colour has changed, it has a slimy texture or if it smells off, it probably is off.

“If you eat food that has gone off, you can risk infection from salmonella, campylobacter and a range of food poisoning bacteria.

“Food poisoning is a really unpleasant illness, requiring time off work or school,” Dr Sinclair says.

Maintaining hygiene around food preparation and cooking requires more thought than normal.

  • always wash and dry your hands before preparing food – if water is in short supply keep some in a bowl with disinfectant
  • ensure all utensils are clean before use
  • cook food thoroughly.

For further information see the Ministry of Primary Industries.

For health advice call Healthline for free anytime on 0800 611 116
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