Food

Discard Perishable Foods After Four-Hour Power Outage- WHO

The global health authority warned that food exposed to temperatures above 5 °C (41 °F) for more than two hours may become unsafe for consumption.

By Nkiruka Aduba

The World Health Organization has cautioned against consuming food stored in a refrigerator if a power outage exceeds four hours. WHO issued this warning on Friday through a series of messages on X, in observance of the 2024 World Food Safety Day themed ‘Food safety: prepare for the unexpected’.

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

The global health authority warned that food exposed to temperatures above 5 °C (41 °F) for more than two hours may become unsafe for consumption.

“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 twp hours.

“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,” WHO warned.

For individuals residing in regions susceptible to power disruptions, the WHO suggests maintaining an inventory of pre-packaged, ready-to-eat, and canned food items, along with bottled water.

WHO further advised, “In case you live 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 situation. Undamaged canned goods and commercial glass jars of food are likely to be safe.

“However, if possible, containers should be sanitised before opening them for use. Discard canned foods with broken seams, serious dents, or leaks.”

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