The American Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), part of the Department of Agriculture, has warned homeowners affected by Hurricane Irene to be cautions before eating perishable items.
Hundreds of thousands of homes were left without power for their refrigerators and freezers after the storm swept through. As a result, the department has issued guidance to help prevent people becoming ill after eating food that has expired prematurely.
Al Almanza, FSIS administrator, said: "Hurricanes not only pose dangers to people's physical safety, but the resulting power outages and other effects of hurricanes also can affect the safety of the food people may rely upon after hurricanes strike.
"The American public should be aware of things they can do to protect the safety of their food before and after natural events."
Anyone who has suffered an outage and is perhaps waiting for fridge repairs or freezer repairs has been told to keep the doors of their appliances closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature inside. A statement released by FSIS said a fridge will keep food safely cold for around four hours after the power cuts out – a freezer for around 48 hours.