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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Throw away cooked food in the refrigerator after a four-hour power outage, warns WHO

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised throwing away food that has not been properly refrigerated due to power outages.

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

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

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

“After four hours of power outage, the following applies: Discard all perishable foods in the refrigerator, such as meat, poultry, fish and leftovers.

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“Dispose of all items in your freezer once they have thawed or cook them immediately, if they have been exposed to room temperature for more than two hours. Never eat food to determine if it is safe. When 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 shortages and substantial debt burdens.

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Data, recommendations

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

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He said that more than 200 diseases are caused by the consumption of foods contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemicals.

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

READ ALSO: Marketing of unhealthy foods: How it affects our children

“Canned goods and undamaged commercial glass food jars are likely safe. However, if possible, containers should be disinfected before opening for use.

“Throw away canned foods that have torn seams, serious dents, or leaks; and jars with cracks,” he noted.

Food Safety Day

World Food Safety Day, celebrated annually on June 7, was established by the United Nations General Assembly working group in 2018 to raise awareness and encourage efforts to prevent, detect and address risks to public health related to unsafe foods.

According to the WHO, this year’s theme highlights the importance of being prepared for food safety incidents, no matter how minor or serious they may be.

“Food safety incidents are situations where there is a potential or confirmed health risk associated with the consumption of food,” he said.

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

He added that managing food safety incidents requires dedicated efforts by policymakers, food safety authorities, farmers and food business operators; Consumers can also play an active role.

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