Health Topics and Links: Food Safety After a Power Outage

Please follow this advice to avoid becoming ill from food after a power outage.

For residential homes:

NH Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommends taking the following steps during and after a loss of electrical power:

  • Never taste 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 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it’s half full and the door remains closed)
  • Food can be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40ºF or below
  • Get block ice or dry ice to keep your refrigerator and freezer as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for an extended period of time
  • Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers, and deli items after 4 hours without power
  • When in doubt, throw it out.

For retail establishments:

Retail establishments are reminded that they should cease operation and contact the Food Protection Section when they have experienced any of the following:

  • Disruption of water service or interruption of electrical service for longer than 2 hours,
  • Have a contaminated water supply or failed sewer system

Consumers or establishments can reach the NH DPHS Food Protection Section at 603-271-4589 or after business hours at 603-271-5300; or by email at

When In Doubt, Throw It Out

For more information, contact Susan Laverack, Associate Director, at (603) 528-2145 or email

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