How to dispose of your rotting, spoiled food after Island power outages
'Food safety during and after a power outage is extremely important'
As some Islanders continue to grapple with power outages and property damage caused by post-tropical storm Dorian, many are wondering how to safely and properly dispose of their spoiled food.
The concern right now for the Chief Public Health Office is making sure Island businesses and households understand what to keep, what to discard, and how to do it safely, said Ryan Neale, manager of the Island's environmental health office.
"Food safety during and after a power outage is extremely important," he said.
One of the major things to keep in mind is how long a fridge or freezer can keep your food fresh, Neale said.
Refrigerators only keep food cold for about four hours and that's if they aren't opened.
Freezers on the other hand, are able to keep food frozen for between 24 and 48 hours, he said.
"We're getting passed those times now," he said.
"When a fridge or freezer has been at a dangerous temperature or hasn't been functioning for a period of time you do get a lot of melting and juices from those foods that can contaminate the surfaces of the fridge or the freezer," Neale said.
One of the big challenges for Islanders who continue to deal with power outages, he said, is sanitizing and cleaning fridges and freezers without running water.
Just coming into contact with those juices can put a person at risk.— Ryan Neale, P.E.I. environmental health office
Islanders are being encouraged to wear gloves, use a cleaning detergent to wipe surfaces and then go about sanitizing the surface.
In addition, people should keep in mind that after surfaces are sanitized they need to remain wet for about 10 minutes to be effective, he said.
"There are harmful micro-organisms, bacteria, viruses that could be present in some of those higher risk items like meats and poultry," Neale said.
"Just coming into contact with those juices can put a person at risk of a food-borne illness or to contaminate other surfaces within their home or their food premises," he said.
After they've cleaned their freezers and fridges, people without water are also being asked to make sure they use baby wipes to clean their hands followed by hand sanitizer.
Sorting waste after the storm
On top of cleaning your food storage areas, many Islanders are wondering how to dispose of their food waste, said Heather Myers, disposal manager at Island Waste Management Corporation.
We have empathy for the people who are still without power.— Heather Myers, Island Waste Management Corporation
Islanders are being asked to try and sort their waste as best they can — with packaging sorted into the waste cart and food in the compost cart.
"We have empathy for the people who are still without power. So if people have food products that have gone beyond their ability to sort it, they may place that unsorted material into the waste cart," she said.
While there won't be any special collection for food waste, IWMC is allowing up to two additional open, rigid containers or bags which can be placed beside regular waste carts.
Those should be paper bags for compost and clear bags for regular waste, Myers said. But the extra bags can't weigh more than 50 pounds each.
IWMC is also reminding residents that the maximum weight for compost and waste carts is 220 pounds.
People with too much waste for their carts can go to a drop-off centre at no additional charge until Sept. 21.
Businesses who need to drop-off their waste will be charged a disposal fee but will not be charged a mixed-waste fee until Sept. 21.
IWMC has extended its hours of operation and centres will be open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
People are asked to keep in mind that the corporation's customer service centre is closed Thursday due to power outages.
Islanders are being directed to the New London centre open from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m., which is accepting trees and branches only. No other material will be accepted at this facility.
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With files from Angela Walker