Q I have a freezer full of frozen goods that were thawed out during a power outage and then refrozen. Are they any good?
A Probably not, but it depends on how long the power was out and what you mean by "thawed."
Generally, food will stay safe in the refrigerator for four to six hours. When the power goes out, check the time. It is important to know how long your power has been out.
Food in the freezer section of a refrigerator will stay frozen for about a day. If a stand-alone freezer is full, food will stay frozen for about two days, one day if half full. If the food still contains ice crystals when the power returns, it can safely be refrozen. If there are no ice crystals but the food is cold (40 degrees or below), treat it as if it had been in the refrigerator, and use within the recommended time. If the food is warm (above 40 degrees), toss it.
Remember, even if the food looks and smells fine, it may not be safe to eat. Bacteria that causes food poisoning does not make food look any different. It will not smell bad or look odd. If the food has been warm, above 40 degrees, for more than two hours, throw it away. Do not taste the food to see if it is still good.
Be especially careful with protein foods. If there's a rule of thumb for food safety, it is: When in doubt, throw it out.
From Universities of Illinois and Minnesota Extension Services
Send your questions to Fixit in care of the Star Tribune, 425 Portland Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488, or call 612-673-7032, or e-mail email@example.com. Past columns are available at www.startribune.com/fixit. Sorry, Fixit cannot supply individual replies. Fixit appears everyday except on Fridays.