They say April showers bring May flowers, but summer storms can bring a few less desirable things—such as power outages. Losing power poses a unique threat to grocery stores due to the potential loss of refrigerated and frozen food inventory. Particularly, meat, eggs, and dairy products are potentially hazardous and can spread food-borne illness if not kept below 40 °F. Knowing how to keep food safe during a disaster will reduce product loss and get your supermarket back up and running in no time.
Prepare Your Refrigerated Cases Ahead Of Time
In the unfortunate event your store loses power, you will need to be able to track the temperature of your display cases. Keep a thermometer in refrigerators and freezers and routinely check to make sure they are in working order.
As Soon As The Power Goes Out
If you do experience loss of power, take these precautions immediately to keep food cold as long as possible:
- Write down the time your power goes out to keep track of how long your refrigeration units go without power.
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Retail refrigerators can keep food at a safe temperature for up to four hours if kept closed. (More on that later…)
- Cover open display cases. Refrigerated display cases, especially vertical ones, can warm up more quickly than their enclosed counterparts.
Long-Term Power Outage Solutions
If you anticipate your power will be out for several hours or experience frequent loss of power, you may consider these more permanent solutions:
- Install a backup power generator. The generator will kick on as soon as your grocery store loses power so your refrigerators and freezers will stay running.
- Call an on-demand dry or ice delivery service. This will keep your refrigeration systems cooler for longer and save more of your inventory from spoilage.
Food Safety is Paramount After Power Returns
If you followed the safety precautions above, potentially hazardous food should stay good for about four hours in the refrigerator and 24-48 hours in the freezer. Discard if:
- Refrigerated food has been held above 40 °F for more than two hours. At this temperature, food is potentially hazardous. (Use this handy chart to help decide.)
- Frozen food that has been held above 40 °F for over two hours. Frozen foods can be safely refrozen if it has been less than two hours above 40 °F, if they are below 41 °F, or if they contain ice crystals.
- You are unsure if it can be eaten safely. When in doubt, throw it out!
Including these precautions in your grocery store’s disaster recovery plan could reduce product loss in event of a power outage. In addition, maintaining a regular cycle for upgrading your supermarket’s refrigeration cases may also increase the likelihood of salvaging potentially hazardous foods such as meats, eggs, and dairy products. We have a great mix of refrigerated and hot foods cases to meet your store needs for all categories. Contact your Borgen representative to purchase a new retail refrigeration system for your store today!