Consumer Food Safety

Program Contact: Lisa DeWall, Food Safety & Preservation Information Assistant
(360) 427-9670 ext. 680 • LisaD@co.mason.wa.us

Washington State University Mason County Extension is committed to promoting community wellness in Mason County. CDC estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. Many of these illnesses can be prevented if consumers follow safe food handling and preparation practices.

Resources

Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency

Always keep meat, poultry, fish, and eggs refrigerated at or below 40 °F and frozen food at or below 0 °F. This may be difficult when the power is out.

Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers) that have been above 40 °F for 2 hours. Click Here for a “When to Save and When to Throw Out” Chart

Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.

Obtain 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. Plan ahead and know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased.

Basics of Safe Food Handling, Including Storage Chart

“Sell By” and “Use By” Dates

Sell-By” date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.

“Best if Used By (or Before)” date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.

“Use-By” date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.

Safety After Date Expire
Except for “use-by” dates, product dates don’t always refer to home storage and use after purchase. “Use-by” dates usually refer to best quality and are not safety dates. But even if the date expires during home storage, a product should be safe, wholesome and of good quality if handled properly and kept at 40 °F or below. See the refrigerator charts in the linked document for storage times of dated products. If product has a “use-by” date, follow that date. If product has a “sell-by” date or no date, cook or freeze the product by the times on the chart.

Questions?

Call your local Food Safety &
Food Preservation Information Assistants (360)427-9670
Lisa DeWall, Ext. 680