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    Division of Public Health

    Health Topics - Disaster Food

    The following information appeared in an article by Carolyn O’Neil, Atlanta Journal Constitution

    Tornadoes, high winds, driving rain and flash floods are weather threats brought close to home during the spring storm season.

    If power lines are down and you're left in the dark, are you prepared to fix a safe and healthy meal?

    Good advice on non-perishables to keep on hand goes way beyond peanut butter in the American Public Health Association's publication "Recipes for Disaster." Meals can get pretty monotonous if the power is out for an extended period of time, so APHA's emergency preparedness cookbook suggests some gourmet-sounding solutions you can prep without gas or electricity.

    The recipes include a canned chickpea and mandarin orange salad, and canned chicken breast livened up with wasabi powder and canned crushed pineapple. There's even a Troubled Times Trifle made with powdered milk and bottled water.

    Smart Stockpiling

    Your fridge may have lost its cool; ice is in short supply, and in severe storm situations, tap water may not be safe to drink.

    The cookbook's main message is safety with smart advice on stockpiling food and water in case of an emergency. Batteries, manual can openers, flashlights, personal medications, pet food and hand sanitizers are on the list, too, but here's a checklist for groceries so you're ready if the lights go out.

    Three days' supply of drinking water. Figure on one gallon of water per person per day. Do not fill empty milk or juice containers with water because you risk bacterial contamination. Check bottled water for expiration dates.

    • Canned vegetables. Choose reduced-sodium versions.
    • Canned fruit. Pick fruit packed in its own juice, not packed in syrup, to cut sugar content.
    • Canned beans. A good source of protein. Drain and rinse canned beans to lower sodium content by as much as 40 percent.
    • Shelf-stable protein foods. Canned tuna, salmon and chicken breast are easy options. Unused portions must be refrigerated, so prepare only as much as you can consume for that meal.
    • Some fresh produce. Apples, oranges, peaches, bananas, tomatoes and carrots can withstand no refrigeration. Note that once they are cut, they should be kept cold.

    Cool Advice

    Refrigerators should always be set below 40 degrees to keep foods fresh and retard bacterial growth. If the power goes out, keep doors closed as much as possible, and foods should stay safe for up to four hours.

    The more foods in the freezer, the better. "A full freezer will stay at freezing temperatures for two days, while a half-full freezer for only one day," says registered dietitian Rachel Begun, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Use a refrigerator thermometer to monitor temperatures, including foods on ice in a cooler. If it reads above 45 degrees Fahrenheit, public health officials advise discarding all meats, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs, opened condiments and cooked leftovers.

    Begun says rather than risk getting sick, "When in doubt, throw it out."

    Recipes for Disaster

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