As the seasons change and the weather becomes more unpredictable, we use September to recognize National Food Safety Education Month and National Preparedness Month. Food safety and preparedness are important for people with kidney disease. Having a weakened immune system puts you at higher risk for foodborne illness in general, and coupled with different treatment needs, a natural disaster can really wreak havoc on your overall safety and wellness.
When preparing for an emergency, it is important to have a plan. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help create your plan:
- What will I eat if the power is off for a prolonged time?
- How will I keep food cold in the event of a prolonged power outage?
- Is my refrigerator at 40°F or below? Is my freezer at 0°F or below?
- Are my pantry items on a high enough shelf in the event of a flood?
One of the biggest concerns when it comes to food safety and emergencies like severe weather is power outages and how to keep perishable food cold. Perishable items always need to be kept at a safe temperature of 40°F or below. Above that temperature, foodborne illness-causing bacteria can multiply to dangerous levels. In the event of a prolonged power outage, a refrigerator will only keep a safe temperature for four hours. After that, certain items need to be moved to a cooler with ice, another refrigerator with power or discarded. A full freezer will keep a safe temperature for 48 hours, and a half-full freezer for 24 hours. It is wise to keep non-perishable items on hand in the event of a prolonged power outage.
To help address food safety during emergencies like severe weather, AKF and USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) are teaming up to host a webinar, "Preparing for an Emergency: What you need to know about kidney disease and food safety" on Sept. 27 at 3 p.m. EST. The webinar will include a review and discussion of the above food safety considerations for people with kidney, how to prepare ahead of time for an emergency to make sure you have safe food, and AKF's disaster preparedness resources for people with kidney disease. You can register here.
Find more food safety tips for those living with kidney disease on Kidney Kitchen and additional information for handling food safely on the USDA FSIS's website.
USDA has more food safety resources as well. For example, if you are hosting a cookout and have related food safety questions, you can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 888-MPHotline (888-674-6854), email MPHotline@usda.gov or chat live at ask.usda.gov from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.