A healthy food plan for post-emergency power cuts


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Food in a refrigerator won’t last long without power so plan your food usage carefully to avoid contamination.
Food will begin to spoil quite quickly so make an eating plan at the first opportunity. Presume that the power outage might last for several days.
The NZ Food Safety Authority recommends:

  • Eat perishable foods first – bread and meat spoil fastest
  • Use canned foods last but don’t use damaged cans – split seams or punctures
  • Don’t open the refrigerator/freezer door unnecessarily
  • Don’t eat vegetables or fruit that have been lying in flood water
  • Cover all food with plastic wrap or store in waterproof containers
  • Throw out rotting or tainted food before it spoils other food
  • Wash and dry hands before preparing food – even if water is in short supply, keep a small amount in a bowl with disinfectant
  • Keep all utensils clean
  • Cook food thoroughly
  • Use fly spray – check your emergency kit has a can
  • Put food scraps in a sealed container to keep away flies and rats
  • Boil or purify water for 3 minutes (see how to sanitise water) to avoid cross-contamination
  • Only refreeze food retaining ice crystals with undamaged packaging
  • Defrosted food is safe if recently defrosted and kept cold
  • Defrosted food cannot be refrozen
  • Check smell or appearance of food – has the colour changed? does it have a slimy texture? does it have an unusual smell? If so, don’t eat

An emergency kit should contain

  • Three days of suitable food for family and pets – canned/dried food, cereals, tea, coffee, powdered soup, salt, sugar, sweets, biscuits; a can opener
  • Gas cooker/barbecue
  • Utensils and plates, pots, cups, bowls
  • Matches and lighters;
  • Bottled water – 3 litres per person per day plus 1 litre for other washing
  • Milk powder or UHT milk
  • Renew every year, think about medical or dietary conditions

How to sanitise water

How to look after animals in an emergency

NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.

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