A Dime on Ice Prevents Food Poisoning

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How can you tell if your refrigerator or freezer defrosted by accident during a power failure, then repowered and refroze?


This is important because you can get food poisoning if some of your frozen food reaches 40° Fahrenheit or above for more than two hours. If this happened and your food refroze, you need to know!


Most modern freezers don’t have walls of ice caused by condensation, which would form ice sheets if they melted.


A simple way to know that defrosting occurred is to freeze ice in a small cup, then put a dime on top of the ice.


If your freezer defrosts, the ice in the small cup will melt. The dime will fall to the bottom of the cup.


Even if your freezer restarts and refreezes, the dime stays at the bottom of the cup. If the dime is not on top of the ice, you are going to have to discard some of your frozen food to prevent food poisoning.


The transparent cup in the picture came from a fast-food restaurant. It holds about one fluid ounce. The cup need not be large but transparent sides are helpful.


I looked to see what foods were not affected by thawing and refreezing. Sadly, the list is small.

Hard cheeses like Cheddar, Colby, Swiss, Parmesan, Provolone, and Romano are safe. Grated Parmesan or Romano in a can or jar is safe. Processed cheeses are safe.

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