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What Happens When the Lights Go Out at a Supermarket?

An ACME spokesperson discusses the Tuesday power outage.

Grocery stores attempt to prepare for the worst. When big snowstorms or weather events, like Hurricane Irene, hit, managers have a little lead time to deal with obstacles.

However, a blown transformer literally left in the  Tuesday. So what does a store do?

"Literally the second a store loses power, everyone puts certain processes in place. It's all in the name of food safety," said Steve Sylven, a spokesperson for ACME's parent company, SuperValu.

With over 2,400 stores nationwide, SuperValu deals with wacky weather and other incidents in a variety of places. In certain areas of the country, Sylven said stores are equipped with massive generators to withstand prolonged outages. These are in areas with increased likelihood of hurricanes, floods or other natural disasters.

Located in the Mid-Atlantic region, Sylven said ACME stores in the Philadelphia area don't possess large-scale generators to power a store, as outages are infrequent and rarely last for days on end.

The outage Tuesday, though not predicted, is something a store like the Roxborough one could withstand.

To handle the temperature drop for frozen foods and meat, Sylven said several techniques are employed, like:

  • Keeping cases closed;
  • Covering up exposed meat cases;
  • Pulling certain items from shelves and moving them to heavy-duty refrigeration units.

"If there's a sustained or prolonged outage, this is not to say there isn't a product loss. Depending on how long it lasts, we have to evaluate the situation," he said.

For an incident lasting only a few hours, like yesterday, Sylven said ACME is pretty "well steeled."

Kaitlyn Foti May 02, 2012 at 04:56 PM
What happened to people in the store when the power went down? Did they have to abandon their shopping carts and leave?

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