Unfortunately nearly 200,000 customers are still in the dark across Monmouth and Ocean Counties due to the affects of Tropical Storm Isaias, as of 6:00 pm on Wednesday according to JCP&L, and for some it may take days to get it back.

So what do you do with your perishable food items and other for and drinks in the refrigerator or your ice cream and veggies in the freezer until power gets back? If you just got power back, is your food still safe to consume?

The Ocean County Freeholders have passed along information that can help.

A federal food safety information site, Foodsafety.gov, has laid out exactly what you should do when the power goes out with your food and other perishables and it starts with keeping the doors closed as often as possible to keep that cold air in there as long as possible, which may only be effective for a few hours for your refrigerator before that air dissipates while freezer air lasts a little bit longer.

They also offer a few tips on what to do during and after a power outage:

  • "If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, check the temperature when the power comes back on. If the freezer thermometer reads 40° F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen."
  • "If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. You can’t rely on appearance or odor alone. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40° F or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook."
  • "Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than 4 hours and the refrigerator door was kept shut. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, or leftovers) that has been at temperatures above 40° F for 2 hours or more (or 1 hour if temperatures are above 90º F)."

You should however say goodbye to any perishable foods in your refrigerator when the power has been off for 4 hours or more and freezer when thawed, FoodSafety.Gov recommends, so essentially when in doubt throw it out.

Use your best judgment too, if the color is off, if it smells, if it's leaking it's probably a good time to toss it in the garbage.

Ocean County Freeholder Director Joe Vicari, who is also liaison to the Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs, suggests looking into filing a claim with your insurance company over the loss of the food.

“As we continue to work through the coronavirus pandemic, and with so many people unemployed because of it, I know that the thought of throwing away food is of great concern,” Vicari said. “Food is expensive but we also do not want people getting sick from eating food that has spoiled.”

Vicari adds in a statement that according to Allstate Insurance, homeowners insurance may offer reimbursement for food lost during a power outage in some cases.

There's nothing guaranteed but it's worth checking with your home insurance company just in case to check and see if they can help you out.

“It’s important to review your insurance policy to determine the best option for you,” Vicari said. “Call your insurance agent or contact the utility company to review your options.”

You can follow Vin Ebenau on Twitter and Instagram and email news tips to vin.ebenau@townsquaremedia.com.

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