Food Concerns Due to Power Outages
Due to the weather events of Mother's Day 2008, the Environmental Health section of the Macon-Bibb County Health Department Environmental Health is concerned about the conditions that have impacted local food service operations in Macon and Bibb County. Due to lack of water and electricity, and in some case structural damage, due to the storm, restaurant facilities may not have the usual abilities to maintain the safety of the food.
Food service establishments that have been without utilities (water, electricity, gas) for 2 or more hours or have sustained structural damage should contact the Macon-Bibb County Health Department to notify us of your status. Any facility that has questions is encouraged to contact the Environmental Health Office at the Macon-Bibb County Health Department. Inspectors are already evaluating restaurants, cafeterias, fast food facilities and other businesses requiring a food service permit. Please call 478-749-0121 or 478-749-0106 with any questions.
Restaurants should take notice of the following information:
- The issues of greatest concern are lack of electricity and structural damage. Food items that are contaminated by debris, rain water or other sources of contamination must be disposed of properly.
- Potentially hazardous foods (meats, poultry, dairy, eggs, fish, seafood, etc.) must be held at or below 41° F at all times or held hot at or above 135° at all times.
- Facilities may take emergency actions including moving product which has been maintained at 41° F at all times to alternative functional refrigeration such as renting a refrigerated truck until refrigeration has been repaired.
- If preventive actions did not occur yesterday, the refrigerated food is probably compromised as refrigeration does not hold for extended periods of time unless operating.
- Frozen foods that remain frozen may be salvaged provided they are held at temperatures below 41° F with adequate facilities, and it is not contaminated by thawing foods stored above such as leaking packages of raw meat dripping on a ready to eat food.
- If food has been held between 41° F and 135° F for four hours or more it cannot be used. If food has been contaminated, it cannot be used. Dispose of properly.
- Operating without appropriate facilities and utilities is not acceptable.
Individuals who experienced power outages in their homes may also be concerned about the safety of their refrigerated food. Food that has an unusual odor, color or texture, or has been at room temperature for two or more hours should be discarded.
Tony Hester, Environmental Health County Manager said, “It is better to be safe than sorry. If you are not sure if the food is safe to eat, just follow this simple rule of thumb: When in doubt, throw it out.”
Please call (478) 749-0121 if you have any questions, concerns or need assistance.