Extended Power Outages Can Result in Food Spoilage
People & businesses across the nation have been dealing with the many severe storms this 2013 winter. It seems that every few days another line of severe weather caused by cold air from the north running into moist tropical air from the tropics creates severe weather conditions which results in major property damage and loss of electrical power for many hours if not days. One impact of this severe weather, the loss of electric power, can be problematic for food safety. That is because there are many foods which need refrigeration at optimal levels in order to keep them free from bacteria and other contaminants. When the power is out, time is of the essence in keeping many foods safe for consumption.
The United States Department of Agriculture issued recommendations on February 8, 2013 with guidelines to help minimize and/or prevent food borne illness. These guidelines were issued because of the major severe winter storms that continue to cross our country and leave thousands without power for extended periods of time. Food borne illness causes about 48 million illnesses each year and about 3,000 deaths in the United States alone according to the USDA.
While this information is primarily intended for individuals and families to secure their own food safety, it is important to remember that many food distributors, retailers, and restaurants will also be affected by power outages. These businesses are responsible for the safety of the food they distribute, sell, and serve and can be held liable if through negligence or carelessness their food products cause a serious illness, such as food poisoning, for anyone.
FDA Has Program For the Food Industry Designed to Help With Food Safety
The Food and Drug Administration has a program called the Retail & Food Service Hazard Analysis and Critical Food Points (HACCP), which offers specific food safety information to assist the food industry in providing safe food for consumers. HACCP is just one tool that is useful in helping keep our food supply safe in conjunction with good manufacturing practices, sanitation, and personal hygiene. The HACCP system involves making sure perishable food is kept safe starting with getting it quickly into refrigeration at the time of delivery, keeping it at the proper level of refrigeration, proper sanitation and housekeeping in the kitchen. It also involves making sure food handlers do something as simple as proper hand washing.
There were a number of food poisoning outbreaks across our nation in 2012 which resulted in many severe illnesses and deaths. It was found that poor sanitation and poor food handling resulted in many of these cases of food poisoning. With the advent of these severe weather power outages, however, we need to keep in mind that lack of proper refrigeration also has the potential to cause food poisoning.
Most refrigerators if kept closed will keep cold food safely for about 4 hours. Frozen food will keep for approximately 48 hours in a full freezer and about 24 hours in a freezer that is half full. If longer than these times has passed without power being restored you should discard foods such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers, and deli items. Some foods are not as perishable and can be kept longer safely such as butter and fresh fruits and vegetables.
If you or a family member should become seriously ill and you suspect it might be a case of food poisoning, you should seek immediate medical help. Next, you should consult with a Georgia food poisoning attorney who can help determine who might be at fault for your illness, can advise you of your legal rights, and determine if you qualify for compensation.
You Can Depend on Atlanta Food Poisoning Attorneys at the Teiger Law Center for Help With a Foodborne Illness Claim
Contact one of our Atlanta personal injury attorneys at the Teiger Law Center for help if you believe you have suffered a foodborne illness because of the negligence or carelessness of another. We can inform you of your legal rights and options. Call today!