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We had a power outage—how do I know if the food in my refrigerator is still good?

Photo: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Mindi Shapiro, Laura Martin

Many refrigerators have a built in thermometer, but if yours doesn't, you should buy an appliance thermometer and keep it in the fridge at all times: your refrigerator should be no warmer than 40 degrees F. (It is optimal to keep it between 36-40 degrees).

In the event of a power outage, when the power goes on if you get a reading of 40 degrees, you're golden. But if the refrigerator temperature went above 40 degrees for more than 2 hours, much of the food may be unsafe.

For information about food safety issues, see Can Your Refrigerator Kill You? and Love Your Leftovers.