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World Food Safety Day

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a critical warning about the dangers of consuming food exposed to temperatures above 5 °C (41 °F) for more than two hours.

This advisory was part of a series of messages shared on to mark the 2024 World Food Safety Day, themed “Food safety: prepare for the unexpected.”

Celebrated annually on June 7, World Food Safety Day was established by a United Nations General Assembly task force in 2018.

The day aims to raise awareness and promote actions to prevent, detect, and address public health risks associated with unsafe food.

The WHO emphasized the risks posed by power outages, stating, “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.”

Specific guidelines were provided for handling food after power cuts:

  • After four hours of a power cut: Discard all perishable foods in your fridge, such as meat, poultry, fish, and leftovers.
  • If frozen food has thawed: Discard or cook immediately if it has been exposed to ambient temperature for more than two hours.

The WHO stressed the importance of erring on the side of caution: “Never taste food to determine if it is safe. If in doubt, throw it away.”

For those living in areas prone to power outages, the WHO recommended keeping a supply of pre-packaged, ready-to-eat, and canned foods, along with bottled water. They also advised sanitizing containers before use and discarding any canned foods with broken seams, dents, or leaks.

“Always keep a stock of pre-packaged, ready-to-eat, and canned food, as well as bottled water for emergencies,” the WHO advised. “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.”

These precautions are part of the WHO’s ongoing efforts to ensure global food safety and protect public health.


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