Emergency Food Supply

Dont Risk Your Health The Top Tips for Ensuring Emergency Food Safety


When extreme weather or other emergency situations arise, food safety is key. This guide will explain how to handle food safely in an emergency.

We'll give practical tips on preparing, storing and cooking all types of food. You'll learn how to recognize and avoid spoiled food – even if it looks fine!

Knowing which food is safe to eat is important. This guide will help you stay safe while eating even in a crisis.

Food Storage

Food storage is essential for emergency safety. Keep food at the right temperature, in the right containers, and away from pests. This article talks about the best ways to store food during an emergency.

  • Temperature and containers matter.
  • Pests? Keep them away!


Refrigeration is the key to food safety. It slows bacteria growth, prevents spoilage and toxins, and extends shelf-life. To keep food safe, follow these tips:

  • Keep your fridge at or below 40℉ (4℃).
  • Store raw meat below cooked food.
  • Use an appliance thermometer as a guide.
  • Check temperatures for accuracy.
  • If no electricity or fridge, use cooler with ice packs/blocks. Keep meals cold until ready to eat and replenish ice as needed. Check local regulations for specific temperatures.


For long-term storage, use a deep freezer and vacuum-sealed packs. Freezing food is a great way to extend its shelf life. Select items that freeze well, with minimal loss in nutrition or texture. Fruits, veggies, and proteins are all good choices.

It's important to remember airtight packaging with no headspace is essential. Cold temperatures will help preserve flavor and texture. Keep the temp at or below 0°F (-18°C). For uncooked proteins, use vacuum sealed pouch bags or containers made for deep freezers. For cooked proteins, use heavy-duty foil, Mason jars, or containers made for freezing. For veggies and fruits, dry them before packing. Use waxed paper to line containers or foil.

Check with your local health inspector for guidelines on proper food handling. By following these steps, you can keep your family safe during tough times.

Pantry Storage

There are many ways to store food in a pantry. Whether it's existing or you're setting up one from scratch, sealable containers like jars and canisters are great for raw foods, such as grains. Label them with the date and contents.

Airtight containers are perfect for non-perishable items like canned goods, nut butters, dried fruits and veg, rice, salt and seasonings.

Raw meats should be double-bagged in plastic before going into the freezer. Ensure any frozen food is tightly sealed. Keeping the temperature consistent is key – 0°F (-18°C) is the recommended temp for long-term storage. And remember to rotate your stored food regularly. Use the oldest items first!

Food Preparation

Emergency food safety is paramount! When prepping food for such occasions, pay attention to detail. Bacteria and other nasties can spread quickly in disasters – this poses a major health risk. Here are our top tips for keeping food safe in emergencies:

  • Keep food in airtight containers and store in a cool, dry place.
  • Check food expiry dates and discard any food that has expired.
  • Clean surfaces and utensils with hot, soapy water before and after handling food.
  • Cook food thoroughly and keep hot food hot and cold food cold.
  • Do not leave food out for more than two hours.
  • Regularly check food for spoilage and discard any food that looks or smells bad.

Cleaning and Sanitizing

Good hygiene is key in an emergency food situation.

  • Wash hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds and dry them.
  • Clean surfaces and utensils with chlorine or quaternary-based cleaners, hydrogen peroxide, or vinegar. Rinse with hot water and soap or put them in a dishwasher. Wear protective gloves if possible.
  • Keep food cold at 4 degrees Celsius or 40 Fahrenheit to avoid spoilage.
  • Cover food containers when possible.
  • Store dry foods away from moisture.


Cooking is essential for preventing foodborne illness in an emergency. Heat all food that can be cooked to 165F and hold it there for 15 seconds before eating. Make sure your gas, charcoal or camp stoves are working before using them as these are your main sources of heat. If using an outdoor grill, wear protective gloves and use long-handled utensils when handling hot items.

Monitor food temps constantly if you're using outdoor cooking booths since they can vary drastically. Use a meat thermometer or instant-read thermometer to check the temperatures of different foods:

  • Beef, pork and lamb: Cook until 160F
  • Ground beef: Cook until 165F
  • Chicken, turkey: Cook until 165F
  • Fish/shellfish: Cook until 145F

For food safety, always follow these tips:

  1. Thaw frozen foods in the bottom shelf of your fridge overnight before cooking
  2. Marinate foods in the lowest shelf of your refrigerator in glass or food grade plastic containers
  3. Wash hands before and after handling raw meat and poultry
  4. Cook all meats at least at a temperature of 145 F for 15 seconds for pregnant women
  5. Separate raw meats from other foods by storing them on the lower shelves of your refrigerator
  6. Place uncooked meats on a plate lined with thick paper towels when taking them out of freezer packages
  7. Boil fresh eggs only, as older ones can increase the risk of salmonella infection.

Avoid Cross Contamination

Practice good hygiene and cleanliness to avoid cross-contamination of food. Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before preparing or consuming food. If there's no warm water and soap, use a hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol.

  • Use separate sponges or paper towels for cleaning raw meats and produce.
  • Don't put canned foods on the floor, store them on shelves with a protective lining.
  • Separate ready-to-eat foods from raw meats, poultry, and seafood when preparing meals. Use clean utensils when serving. Don't use the same utensil for different foods.
  • When travelling with meals that need refrigeration, store them in airtight containers or insulated bags with ice packs to keep the temperature low (40°F/4°C).

Food Handling

Breathing, eating, and drinking: three activities that can cause infection and illness if not done properly. To stay healthy, it's important to know the best practices for food safety. Here are the top tips for emergency food safety:

Temperature Control

Temperature control is super important for food safety in emergencies. Here are some tips to remember:

  • Store perishable items like meat and poultry in the fridge or freezer if you can. If no power, use a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs. Eat these items within two hours of cooking. They will stay safe for up to four hours.
  • Fruits and veggies should be kept in cool, dry areas away from sunlight, not in containers made of recycled materials.
  • If you have water outages, boil water for at least one minute or one minute per gallon. You can also filter it through coffee filters.
  • When meals are prepared, the internal temperature should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit for proteins like beef and pork. This will kill any bacteria.

Food Labeling

Labeling food is key for safety. Use plastic labels so moisture won't ruin the writing. Make sure the labels are legible and accurate. This can reduce spoilage and waste.

Labels should include:

  • Ingredients
  • Production/expiration dates
  • Instructions for preparation/storage
  • Country of origin
  • Defrosting info
  • Warnings

All this helps prevent cross-contamination between dishes.

Proper Disposal

In an emergency, it's important to know how to properly discard food. This includes storing and cooking it safely and cleaning surfaces and instruments. Discard any food that's been exposed to extreme temperatures or contaminated water. Don't use any canned goods with damages like dents, bulges or swelling, as they can cause botulism poisoning. Securely cover the food so animals cannot access it. Wash surfaces with warm, soapy water. For kitchen implements, use hot water and mild soap. Empty liquids into an outdoor sink or container. Wash hands for 20 seconds with warm, soapy water before touching ready-to-eat foods.

Perishable items should be placed in a sealed container or bag to contain leakage. These steps will help limit risks associated with poor hand hygiene and improper storage/cooking during an emergency.


To keep your emergency food stores safe, follow these top tips:

  1. Maintain correct cold storage
  2. Clean and disinfect all surfaces and utensils
  3. Package food for storage
  4. Inspect canned goods for spoilage or contamination
  5. Check dry goods for pests or signs of spoilage
  6. Rotate items regularly
  7. Practice good hygiene when preparing meals
  8. Discard any food that may not be safe.

Following these recommendations will help you have safe and nutritious foods during an emergency.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the most important thing to keep in mind when storing emergency food?

A: The most important thing to keep in mind when storing emergency food is to maintain a temperature of 40°F or lower. This will help prevent the growth of bacteria and foodborne illnesses.

Q: What are some other tips for keeping emergency food safe?

A: Other tips for keeping emergency food safe include: avoiding cross-contamination, washing hands and surfaces often, discarding expired food, and properly cleaning and storing food containers.

Q: What are the potential risks of not following emergency food safety guidelines?

A: Not following emergency food safety guidelines can lead to foodborne illnesses, which can cause severe health complications and even death.

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