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    Kroger Cautions on Food Safety During Power Outage

    In its stores and to its customers, the leading grocer was preaching prudence when it comes to handling perishable food during extended power outages.

    Even as it has had to close a number of stores in Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio, Louisville, Ken., and Houston, Texas as a result of storm-prompted power outages, The Kroger Co. has been reminding the shopping public to be cautious of the safety of their own food in home freezers and refrigerators during extended power outages. 

    "We appreciate the tremendous efforts of our associates to do everything they can to serve our customers during this time of disruption," said Geoffrey Covert, president of Kroger's Cincinnati-Dayton division of Kroger, adding that the chain makes food safety its first priority in assessing store conditions once power is restored.

    "We follow the same advice we give to consumers ... when in doubt, we will throw it out," said Covert.

    Meanwhile, Kroger has begun raising funds for American Red Cross hurricane relief efforts in stores in regions of the country that were hit hard by Hurricane Ike.

    The hurricane hammered the Gulf Coast, causing some $22 billion in damage, which would make it the third costliest hurricane on record, behind Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

    To help offset the devastation, Kroger said would provide a limited matching grant for funds raised from associates and customers.

    "We appreciate the tremendous efforts of our associates to do everything they can to serve our customers during this time of disruption," said John Hackett, president of the Mid South division of Kroger. 

    FDA guidelines state that during a power outage, food in a full freezer will usually be safe for about two days, as long the door is kept closed. Food in a half-full freezer will be safe for about 24 hours. A properly working refrigerator should keep food safely cold for about four hours, if the doors are kept closed.  

    Refrigerated food should be kept at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, while frozen food should remain at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the FDA. When power returns, consumers should immediately check the temperature in their freezers and refrigerators. If they did not have a thermometer in the appliance, they should check each package of food to determine its safety.

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