Is Your Food Safe After Quake?

Mieko Sagara
Mieko Sagara
Rex Misunaga
Rex Misunaga

ALA MOANA (KHNL) - With power back on throughout most of O'ahu, grocery stores have restocked their shelves and re-opened their doors. But what about the food in your refrigerator? What's safe to eat and what should you throw out?

Most refrigerators can safely keep food without electricity for about four hours. Beyond that, you could be gambling with your health.

Shoppers flood local grocery stores, a day after an earthquake knocked out power to most of Hawai'i.

"I had to get rid of whatever was in the refrigerator like cottage cheese and milk," said Colleen Moors, a Nuuanu resident.

And some products were hard to find.

"I came to buy milk," said Moors. "There's no milk."

Shoppers also stocked up on emergency supplies.

"I bought some fruit and some dried food and drink," said Mieko Sagara, an Ala Moana resident. "And one more thing: flash light."

A valuable less for a place not used to major earthquakes.

But for those who have not made it to the grocery store yet, how can you decide what's safe to eat?

"If you notice your food has off color, odors that are not usually there, it's better to be safe, so like we say, when in doubt, throw it out," said Rex Mitsunaga, an official with the Department of Health.

Perishables such as milk, meat and fish will go bad if they're not kept cold for more than four hours. Otherwise, bacteria can invade your food. But there are some exceptions: eggs are safe for two days if they are not cracked. And cheese and butter are safe unless they're moldy or have a funny smell.

While some scramble to find food yesterday, others took it in stride.

"We're on a diet so we ate light food. Vegetables and fruits. That's all," said Robert Patrocinio, a Diamond Head resident.

Whether you're watching what you eat or not, health experts say it's not worth gambling with your health.

They also say replacing food in the long run is a lot cheaper than putting yourself and your family at risk for food poisoning.