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June 16, 2024
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WHO Warns: Cooked Fridge Foods Unsafe After 4-Hour Power Outage

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised that foods that have not been refrigerated properly due to power outages should be discarded.

According to WHO, perishable and cooked foods stored in a refrigerator after four hours without power are no longer safe for consumption.

WHO in a series of posts on its X account commemorating the 2024 World Food Safety Day, themed ‘Food safety: prepare for the unexpected’.

The global organisation: “If there has been a power outage in your area, refrigerated or frozen food may not be safe to eat. Products can become unsafe if they have been exposed to temperatures above 5 °C for more than two hours,” WHO warned.

“After four hours of a power cut, the following apply: Throw out all perishable foods in your fridge, such as meat, poultry, fish, and leftovers.

“Throw out all items in your freezer once they have thawed or cook them immediately, if they have been exposed to ambient temperature for more than two hours. Never eat food to determine if it is safe. If in doubt, throw it away.”

In Nigeria, this is a major concern as power supply across the country remains unstable due to reasons such as unreliable grid systems, gas scarcity, and substantial debt burdens.

According to WHO, foodborne illnesses affect 91 million people in Africa every year, adding that one in 10 people fall ill from contaminated food each year.

It said over 200 diseases are caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances.

WHO further recommends that those living in areas prone to power outages, “always keep a stock of pre-packaged, ready-to-eat and canned food, as well as bottled water for an emergency.

“Undamaged canned goods and commercial glass jars of food are likely to be safe. However, if possible, containers should be sanitized before opening them for use.

“Discard canned foods with broken seams, serious dents, or leaks; and jars with cracks,” it noted.

Food Safety Day is celebrated annually on 7 June, World Food Safety Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly task force in 2018 to raise awareness and encourage efforts to prevent, detect and address public health risks linked to unsafe food.

According to WHO, this year’s theme underlines the importance of being prepared for food safety incidents, no matter how mild or severe they can be.

“Food safety incidents are situations where there is a potential or confirmed health risk associated with food consumption,” it noted.

“A food incident can happen, for example, due to accidents, inadequate controls, food fraud or natural events.”

It added that managing food safety incidents requires dedicated efforts from policymakers, food safety authorities, farmers and food business operators, consumers also can play an active role.

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