As power begins to return to the region, food safety concerns are coming to the forefront.
Many homes and restaurants went without electricity for at least a few hours, raising the concern of spoilage for refrigerated food items.
“Our biggest concern right now is ensuring that food service establishments that lost power during the hurricane that are reopening meet sanitary standards,” said Steve Mansfield, Deputy Director at .
Ledge Light Health District has sent six sanitarians out into the field to inspect over 650 restaurants in the region, of which approximately 200 are in Groton.
The restaurants are being evaluated by the sanitarians for food safety, including checking food temperatures and evaluating any flooding. The sanitarians will issue closure orders as necessary if a restaurant does not meet the minimum safety requirements.
“We’re prioritizing the establishments we’re inspecting based on level of risk,” said Mansfield.
For example, a longtime care facility that serves food to the elderly will be checked before a gas station that sells prepackaged food items.
Mansfield also warns people to be wary of the food in their refrigerators, especially if they experienced a power outage longer than four hours.
Any food that remains in the “danger zone” - above 45 degrees for refrigerated foods – more than four hours is unsafe.
“Even if people have kept their refrigerator closed throughout the power outage, the food is still unsafe. If you have any doubt, it should be discarded,” he said.
Food safety tips are available on the Ledge Light Health District website. Some of the tips include:
- Be especially careful with eggs and egg products, milk and milk products, meat, fish, poultry and shellfish. If you have any doubt concerning food items, they should be discarded – remember – when in doubt, throw it out!
- A tightly shut refrigerator can keep the food at or below 45 ºF degrees for about 4 hours and a freezer can keep food frozen for up to 2 days (if fully stocked).
- If there is a suspicion that your well may be contaminated (dug wells or drilled wells where the cap was partially or completely submerged), do not drink the water. You should have your water tested for contamination to ensure its safety.
Should you have any further questions or require assistance, call Ledge Light Health District at 860-448-4882 and ask for a sanitarian.