By Matt Gephardt
(KUTV) At the new Harmon's grocery store in Downtown Salt Lake City great lengths are taken to make sure the produce sold to customers is fresh.
"That’s what we hang our hat on,” says store director Todd Jensen. Jensen says fresh doesn't just matter for better taste, it's also important for safety to avoid any foodborne illness. Keeping everything cold that needs to be kept cold takes a lot of power which is why Jensen has been watching the Sandy storm coverage with a vested interest. Much of the north east has been without power for days, including the grocery stores.
Jensen says the threat of a major power outage is a “constant worry” to him as store manager.
“If the power goes down you can lose your product,” he says.
At Harmon's, they have a backup plan including generators and refrigerated trucks. But what about the rest of us? How long will food last in our fridges without power?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it depends. The USDA says the main factor for keeping refrigerated food safe is that it stays below 40 degrees. How long food takes to go above that temp depends on the size of the fridge, how full the fridge is, and how often the door is opened. But as a rule, they say refrigerated food will last about four hours, and frozen food more like one or two days.
Ryan Longman is the manager at Be Ready Utah. The group tries to get the word out to be prepared for a disaster that could leave Utah cities without power for days.
“Some of the critical things people need to think about is number one, food and water and then also how to heat their home," he says.
Longman says if you can forecast a power outage, like when you know a big storm is coming, freeze what food you can so it will last longer. If it's too late, Longman says, “Pull those vital things out of your refrigerator: your milk, cheese, the things you're going to rely on and put them in a cooler and get some ice in that cooler and that way it'll last a little longer than those four hours."
Longman stresses the importance of having a 72 hour emergency kit in your home that includes cash. If the power is out and you need to go to the store for ice or anything else, credit card and ATM machines probably aren't going to be working. You'll need cash.
More information on emergency preparedness at http://beready.utah.gov/
Emergency kits and supplies in Utah available at retail stores like Emergency Essentials: http://beprepared.com
(Copyright 2012 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)