baby feeding

Why Picard and supermarkets will struggle to stay open without electricity

Les surgelés Picard tiennent deux heures dans leurs congélateurs sans électricité à - 18 degrés.

Posted 3 Dec. 2022 at 10:12

“Two hours is enough”. Cathy Collart Geiger was one of the first distribution bosses to call, in October, RTE, the manager of the electricity transmission network. The CEO of Picard feared for her freezers during possible cuts. Frozen foods can be stored at -18 degrees “throughout”. The ex from Auchan asked for tests. Caskets (chest freezers) were unplugged. The death of small chocolate fondants or glazed peas has not been pronounced. A relief, because the “blackout” whose location will be known the day before at 5 p.m. will not exceed 120 minutes according to the authorities.

Other supermarkets do not have this certainty. Two hours does not hold for refrigerated products, such as yogurts, according to the rules in force. “We are discussing with the Directorate General for Food”, explains Thierry Cotillard, operators of three Intermarché west of Paris and president of Perifem, the technical association of large surfaces. A tolerance should be granted because the health risks are minimal, almost non-existent with the new cold cabinets with closed doors.

Payment systems

Only two hours left, that doesn’t hold up in terms of security either. Perifem published a protocol that “Les Echos” consulted. If stores do not have generators – this is the case for almost all hypermarkets, but not supermarkets – the question of closure will arise.

Opening will remain possible if natural light (for example in the event of a power cut in the morning) illuminates the premises and the safety clearance zones. In case of darkness, the store closes and evacuates its customers.

The problem is that if they can stay, they will have to be able to pay their bill, but the cash desks run on electricity. Above all, emphasizes Perifem, safety equipment must be functional: fire safety, smoke extraction, warning sirens, elevators for evacuation, water pumps.

This equipment is usually equipped with batteries but they do not last more than an hour. “At the end of the battery life, the store must evacuate the public and close”, commands the association which brings together Carrefour and Leclerc as well as Fnac, Ikea and Leroy Merlin.

Defrosters and ice trays

Large retailers, which will not be spared because they are not identified as priority structures, must therefore anticipate the closing of the doors.

“During a power outage, stores cannot accommodate their customers and employees, for security reasons and because of the lack of light. The announcement of the potential cut the day before may therefore lead the stores to decide whether to close the next morning or afternoon, ”slices the Federation of Commerce and Distribution, which reminds its members of good practices.

It is necessary to anticipate, not to defrost just before the cut, on the contrary to increase the production of ice the previous days, “to place the products in the bottom of the furniture and to leave more products in the cold rooms, not to open the cold rooms any more before the time of the announced cut”, enumerates the Federation.

“After the cut, all products and furniture will be checked according to the rules for preserving the cold chain”, reassures the professional union, which finally advises to manage its stocks as closely as possible as soon as the cut is announced, in order to again, avoid throwing the baby out with the thawing water.

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