Ga Dept of Agriculture


Hurricane Food Safety Memo

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Georgia Department of Agriculture
Gary W. Black, Commissioner
19 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. SW
Atlanta, GA 30334

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Press Release
Wednesday, September 6
Office of Communications

Hurricane Food Safety

The current track of Hurricane Irma represents a major threat to South Georgia, which should not be underestimated. This dangerous storm brings the potential for very high winds, heavy rains, and flooding, all of which could cause power outages, injury, and other damage. In preparation, all Georgians are encouraged to review the tips below:
Safety Plan

  1. Before the storm arrives , ensure you have a Family Safety Plan, including:
    1. Emergency contact information
    2. Medical information and medications/prescriptions
    3. Meeting places
    4. Important documents (birth certificates, social security cards, driver’s license, etc.)
    5. See more info at
  2. Ready your Emergency Kit. A checklist is available at
  3. Call ahead to your nearest evacuation center to see if they permit pets; also review tips on keeping pets safe during a disaster situation:

Power Outages

  1. Make sure that you have appliance thermometers in your refrigerator and freezer.
    1. Freezer temperature should be at or below 0 °F
    2. Refrigerator should be at or below 40 °F
  2. Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator, or coolers in case of a power outage.
  3. Group food together in the freezer. This will help food stay colder longer.
  4. Buy dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator cold if the power is going to be out for a prolonged amount of time.

During power outage:

  1. Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. A refrigerator without power will keep food cold for about 4 hours if unopened.


Once power is restored:

  1. When in doubt, throw it out!
  2. Check the temperature of the thermometer once the power comes back on. If the freezer thermometer reads 40 °F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen.
  3. If a thermometer was not kept in the freezer, check each package of food. Do not rely on the food’s appearance or odor. If the food in the freezer contains ice crystals or is 40 °F or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook.
  4. Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than 4 hours and the refrigerator door was kept shut. Discard any perishable food that has been at temperatures above 40 °F for more than 2 hours.


  1. Because flooding may compromise the water supply, your water distributor (city/county) may issue a Boil Water Advisory. Follow the advisory’s directions and/or use bottled water for drinking and things like brushing your teeth. If you are unsure how your water supply is being affected, use bottled water.
  2. Do not eat food that has come into contact with flood water; discard any food or beverage that is not in a waterproof container, if there is any chance it came into contact with flood water:
    1. Waterproof food containers include undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans and “retort pouches” (flexible, shelf-stable juice or seafood pouches).
    2. Food containers that are NOT waterproof include those with screw-caps, snap lids, pull tops, and crimped cans.
    3. Discard of food or beverages in cardboard boxes as well as home canned foods if they have come into contact with flood water, because they cannot be effectively cleaned and sanitized.
  3. Discard any damaged cans, include those with swelling, leakage, punctures, holes, fractures, extensive deep rusting, or denting severe enough to prevent normal stacking or opening with a manual, wheel-type can opener.
  4. Thoroughly wash metal pans, ceramic dishes, utensils and countertops/food prep surfaces with soap and hot water. Rinse and then sanitize by applying a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water. Let air dry.


About the GDA The Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) is the voice of the state’s agriculture community. The department's mission is to provide excellence in services and regulatory functions, to protect and promote agriculture and consumer interests, and to ensure an abundance of safe food and fiber for Georgia, America, and the world by using state-of-the-art technology and a professional workforce. For more information, visit
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