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Residents urged to safely dispose of spoiled food following storms

UPDATE 6/17 -

Free spoiled food disposal safety kits also are available while supplies last from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day at the Aboite Township Fire Department, 11321 Aboite Center Road.

Original post -

For immediate release

Fort Wayne (June 16, 2022) – With many still without power following strong storms this week, the Allen County Department of Health is urging residents to carefully monitor food kept in refrigerators and freezers and properly dispose of any spoiled food.

Refrigerators generally will keep food safe for up to four hours during a power outage, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers should be discarded after four hours without power.

Freezers generally will hold a safe temperature for food around 48 hours (24 hours if the freezer is half full and the door stays closed). Food can safely be refrozen if it contains ice crystals or is at 40 degrees or colder.

Charts at outline types of food in each storage setting and whether the food should be thrown away following a power outage:

The Department of Health has purchased and assembled spoiled food disposal safety kits. We have partnered with the Fort Wayne Fire Department, and these kits will be available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Fort Wayne Fire Station No. 5 in Waynedale, 5801 Bluffton Road. The kits contain thick trash bags, gloves and hand sanitizer. Kits will be available at that location for the next week, as supplies last.

Disposal safety kits are limited to two per household.

If you must dispose of spoiled food products in the trash, please consider these personal and community safety recommendations:

  • Leave spoiled food in its original packaging to minimize the amount of handling with these foods to lessen the likelihood of spreading harmful bacteria that may have developed. Spoiled products, especially raw meats, hold a lot of bacteria that could make you sick if ingested.
  • Package spoiled items in bags separately from other trash items.
  • If possible, use dark-colored, thicker garbage bags to dispose of spoiled food items. Double bag these items, if possible. Tie each bag as tightly as possible.
  • Place the bags in thick, sturdy and well-sealed trash containers to await pick-up. Avoid setting bags of spoiled food on the ground outside of a container because this will attract pests including rodents and other animals.
  • Use gloves when handling spoiled foods. Wash your hands thoroughly following your disposal steps and use hand sanitizer when possible.
  • Wash all surfaces where spoiled food was stored or where the items leaked/spilled to eliminate the spread of foodborne illness.

Food should never be tasted following an outage to determine safety. When in doubt, throw it out.

To throw away large amounts of food, contact trash haulers or local landfill operators for disposal instructions.

Questions about the safety of specific foods can be directed to the Department of Health Food and Consumer Protection Division – (260) 449-7562 or