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County Provides Food Safety Recommendations for Residents and Businesses Affected by Power Outage


SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – The County of Santa Clara Department of Environmental Health is issuing food safety recommendations to residents and food businesses in the Palo Alto area impacted by today’s power outage.

The majority of residents and food businesses in Palo Alto have been without power for most of Wednesday, February 17, after a small plane damaged a power tower before crashing in an East Palo Alto neighborhood. 

A team of Environmental Health Specialists has been visiting food establishments in Palo Alto today to ensure proper handling of food during the power outage. Because of the extended length of time without refrigeration, Environmental Health encourages residents to take the following actions: 

  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
  • Discard perishable foods such as dairy products, meats, and other foods normally stored under refrigeration as they spoil rapidly and may cause food borne illness. If still cold (41 degrees F or below), these foods should be used as quickly as possible.
  • Use dry or block ice to keep your refrigerator as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic foot full freezer for 2 days.
  • Thoroughly cook and use frozen food that partially thaws but does not exceed normal refrigeration temperatures (41 degrees F) for more than two hours. Do not refreeze it. 

Food establishments that cannot provide hot water, lighting and adequate refrigeration should remain closed until services are restored and food safety can be assured. Before reopening, food businesses should ensure refrigeration of foods at 41 degrees or below, hot holding of foods (135 degrees F or above), availability of hot water (minimum of 100 degrees F), lighting and mechanical ventilation. 

Because today’s outage has been so prolonged, potentially hazardous food (foods normally stored hot or cold) must be discarded and not sold if the required temperatures have not been maintained. 

For general information concerning food safety, call the Department of Environmental Health at 408-918-1955, or visit

Media Contact: Ben Gale/Philip D. Smith, County of Santa Clara Department of Environmental Health, (408) 918-1955
Posted: February 17, 2010