We had a power outage last night in winter that lasted six hours. I understand that for an outage over four hours things should be thrown away if they get above 40 degrees for two more hours according to this article. But I am confused, do they mean four hours or six in total? http://www.thekitchn.com/heres-what-to-keep-and-throw-out-after-a-power-outage-223425

The fridge was very cold to start and rose to 5 degrees celsius (41F) after two and three hours. So that means it could have been a bit above 5 degrees for three hours but not by much at all. (This also happens in the summer and so far things have been fine).

The main thing I am concerned about is raw pork (which I put in the freezer after about 5 hours) and milk. I noticed this advisory from the UK which uses 5 degrees vs. the Canadian 4 degrees. I wonder if we are too careful in North America? And does 2-3 degrees over make a big difference? And is cooking the pork to say 180 degrees Fahrenheit internal temperature rather than 145 degrees get rid of any extra bad bugs? Thanks! http://www.northdevon.gov.uk/business/food-hygiene-and-safety/food-safety-tips/temperature-control/Thanks!

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    As a note, no amount of cooking gets rid of the toxins produced in improperly stored food. – Catija Jan 3 '17 at 4:00
  • #Catija is VERY VERY right, trying to cook the 'bad bugs' out of your food does not work, you are risking salmonella poisoning, which for the very young, and infirm could lead to serious illness, even death. Throw out the pork. One sentence says it all: IF IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT! – dougal 5.0.0 Jan 3 '17 at 4:58
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    If the fridge itself was only a couple of degrees out, the food won't even have been that warm. But the surface of the food is the bit you have to worry most about, and that will have been the warmest. If you have a meat drawer they often start cooler than the rest of the fridge so it could have been within spec the whole time in there. The milk is probably nothing to worry about compared to the rest of the contents. – Chris H Jan 3 '17 at 7:00
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    I have always been lead to believe the acceptable top temperature is 6c though the preferable is 3c (by food hygiene inspectors when inspecting my kitchens) so if your food only reached 5c I'd personally feel safe. – Doug Jan 3 '17 at 8:28
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    I'm not an expert on food safety, but (a physicist) as far as I understand it, the trouble with temperature is that those bugs proliferate almost exponentially faster as temperature increases, and the total amount of toxins again increases exponentially with time and growth rate, making for a very strong temperature-badness correlation. However, the relation is still a continuous function, i.e. if the temperature only exceeded 5°C very slightly and for very short then nothing happens that wouldn't also happen at 4°C, but over a substantially longer time span. – leftaroundabout Jan 4 '17 at 22:15

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