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Ask Dr. Nandi: How do you know if the food in your fridge is safe to eat?

Posted: 5:51 PM, Jul 22, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-22 19:09:17-04

(WXYZ) — Now that the lights are back on in many of the homes who lost power over the weekend, you could be wondering if the food in your fridge is safe to eat.

A lot of my patients ask me this question. Remember, your fridge keeps food cold for about 4 hours as long as the door is kept closed. After that, you’ll want to toss out perishable foods like eggs, fish, meat and leftovers because these need to be kept at 40 degrees or colder.

Now once the fridge temperature gets above 40 degrees, then many food items are really only good for about 2 hours. Some items may last longer like hard cheeses, butter, fruit juices, jelly, ketchup, and uncut raw fruits and vegetables.

Now it’s important that you don’t taste the food, or decide it’s safe to eat based on how it looks or smells. That’s because bacteria that cause food-borne illnesses can start growing pretty quickly at certain temperatures.

Now if you’re not sure about the food, you can follow that old saying “When in doubt, throw it out”. You can also visit foodsafety.gov as they have a chart listing of what’s safe to eat and what’s not. And lastly, don’t toss out water, plain water is fine if it’s room temperature.

You definitely want to stay hydrated in the heat. And a good way to remind yourself to top up your fluids is by keeping a glass of water or a water bottle nearby where you can easily see it.

You can also have a cold glass of water before a meal and eat water-dense foods like watermelon, berries, and cucumbers. I tell my patients to skip caffeinated drinks because the caffeine can pull extra fluid out of your body – plain water really is best.

When it comes to food, sleep and the heat, it’s best to eat small meals. If you have a large meal in the evening, it will take longer to digest and raise your body’s temperature.

Eating lighter foods like fruits and vegetables tend to generate less heat. But if you really want a big meal, I’d recommend you eat it earlier in the day, like at lunchtime.