Excerpts from an online chat with the food writers and experts of The Washington Post.
Q: Our freezer door was ajar for approximately six hours, causing an accumulation of frost on the foodstuffs near the front and in the door. The soft packaging, such as bags of frozen veggies and paper-wrapped meats, still felt hard to the touch, which seems to indicate they remained frozen.
Any suggestions about food safety? The freezer is absolutely full, and I’d hate to toss all that food. But I’d also hate to make anyone sick.
A: I think you’re probably all right. Here’s some guidance from the USDA:
“If there is a power outage, the freezer fails, or if the freezer door has been left ajar by mistake, the food may still be safe to use if ice crystals remain. If the freezer has failed and a repairman is on the way, or it appears the power will be on soon, don’t open the freezer door. If the freezer door was left ajar and the freezer continued to keep the food cold, the food should stay safe.”