WHO Warns of Food Safety Risks During Power Outages



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The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a critical public health reminder on Friday through its social media channels, urging caution regarding food safety during power outages.

The WHO’s message highlights the potential dangers of consuming refrigerated or frozen food that has been exposed to unsafe temperatures for extended periods.

Key Points:

  • Temperature Threshold: The WHO emphasizes that food products can become unsafe if exposed to temperatures exceeding 5°C (41°F) for more than two hours. This includes perishable items like meat, poultry, fish, and leftovers stored in the refrigerator.
  • Four-Hour Rule: In the event of a power outage exceeding four hours, the WHO advises discarding all perishable foods in the fridge. This precautionary measure aims to prevent potential foodborne illnesses caused by the growth of bacteria.
  • Frozen Food Handling: Food items stored in the freezer are not exempt from risk. The WHO recommends discarding any frozen items that have completely thawed. If partially thawed and the power returns within two hours, these items can be cooked immediately and consumed safely. However, refreezing thawed food is not recommended.
  • When in Doubt, Throw it Out: The WHO discourages the practice of tasting food to determine its safety. The presence of harmful bacteria may not be readily detectable by taste or smell. If there’s any uncertainty regarding the food’s temperature history, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard it.

The WHO’s timely message serves to educate the public about the potential consequences of improper food handling during power outages. By following these guidelines, individuals can significantly reduce their risk of contracting foodborne illnesses.

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