WSU Extension Q&A: Fridge food safety after lost power

January 2, 2014 

Q. We were traveling during the holidays and spent some time in a cabin. While we were there, the power went out. I was uncertain about the safety of the food in the refrigerator once the power returned.

A. Any time the power goes out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed to help maintain the temperature. A refrigerator will remain at a safe temperature for about four hours. A freezer will hold the temperature for about 48 hours when full, 24 hours if half full. An appliance thermometer kept in the refrigerator and freezer can help monitor the temperature during power outages. If the temperature inside the appliance is 40 degrees or below when the power returns, your food will remain safe to use. At temperatures above 40 degrees, food becomes unsafe in two hours. A word of caution: Never taste a food to determine its safety.

Q. Does the feed that I give my cattle affect the flavor of the meat?

A. The short answer: Yes, it can, but it gets more complicated from there. Genetics and environment affect meat flavor. Generally for cattle, high-energy diets consisting of grains (starchy feeds like corn and barley) produce a more intense flavor in red meat than when the cattle are produced on lower-energy forage or grass diets.

In the past, feed ingredients such as fish byproducts, oils and meals, and some grasses were the cause of an off flavor. While there are typically flavor differences between grain-fed and grass-fed beef, personal preference by consumers is important in determining the acceptability of the product.

Q. My friend said that you recommend watering evergreens in late fall and winter. I'll have to get out a hose each time. Do they really need the water?

A. Yes. Evergreens, including needled conifers (such as pine, spruce, fir and arborvitae) and broadleaf evergreens (such as rhododendron) benefit from having water applied in their root zone during the fall and winter in our region. As evergreens, they can lose moisture through their leaves. If water isn't available to them in the soil, they will sustain drought injury

So drag those hoses out and give these plants a good soaking in their root zone at least once a month during the fall and winter when the soil isn't frozen. There often is less available moisture in the soil than you think. Note that the root zone isn't at the trunk of older, established trees, but out further at the edge of the branches and beyond.

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