Marie-Claude Dulac

By Marie-Claude Dulac

December 9, 2016

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Home Insurance: Power Outages and Your Food in 5 Questions

Article revised on 21 February 2018

If you had to sort through your refrigerator after a power outage, would you know what you should keep and what you should throw out? Does your home insurance cover the cost of the food you throw out?

Even if prolonged power outages are rare in Quebec, it’s always better to be prepared in case you have to face one some day.

So here’s what you need to know about preserving foods in case of a power outage!

  1. Can I make a home insurance claim for the contents of my refrigerator or freezer that I had to throw out following a power outage?

Yes. In the event of a power outage, home insurance for your principal residence usually covers damaged food. Check with your insurer to know the exact extent of your coverage.

  1. How do I go about sorting through my refrigerated food in the event of a power outage?

The Québec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food recommends refrigerating perishable foods in temperatures between 0°C and 4°C. To make sure you maintain these temperatures, you should install a thermometer in your refrigerator. After a power outage, it will give you a good idea of how you should proceed with the food in your refrigerator.

  1. How can I preserve my food during a power outage?

Avoid opening the refrigerator or freezer doors until power is restored to help maintain an adequate internal temperature.

  1. How do I know if my refrigerated food needs to be thrown out once power is restored?

If the power outage lasts less than 6 hours and the refrigerator’s internal temperature is 4°C or less, you can keep the food and consume it as you normally would.

If the power outage lasts over 6 hours or if the refrigerator’s internal temperature climbs above 4°C, throw out:

  • All foods showing signs of spoiling
  • Any open containers of baby formula, yogurt or vegetable juices
  • All the following foods or dishes that contain the following foods:
    • Milk and cream
    • Cream cheese or soft cheeses
    • Eggs
    • Non-pasteurized juices
    • Cooked or prepared vegetables, including soups and salads
    • Meat and fish, including sauces
    • Cooked or fresh pasta
  1. After the power outage, how do I know if my frozen food needs to be thrown out?

If the power outage lasted less than 24 hours, your food should still be frozen and fine to consume. Check to make sure the food is still frozen regardless, and follow the recommendations below if you have any doubts.

If the power outage lasted between 24 and 48 hours, check on all the food in the freezer by following these recommendations:

Put back in the freezer safelyCook and consume immediately
or
Cook and freeze again
Throw out
- Food with frost on the packaging, if the centre of the food is still hard

- Hard cheeses, baked goods, fruits and pasteurized fruit juices that are completely thawed, if the container is still intact
All raw foods that have thawed, but remained at a temperature below 4°C All perishable foods that have thawed completely and exposed to a temperature of 4°C or above
Examples of perishable foods:
- Meat, poultry, fish and seafood
- Dairy products
- Eggs
- Dishes containing these foods

Source (French only): http://www.mapaq.gouv.qc.ca/fr/Consommation/pannes/Pages/pannes.aspx

Additional information http://pannes.hydroquebec.com/poweroutages/be-prepared-for-power-outage/

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