Press Release

Ministry of Health & Social Development
Release Date:
Friday, 7 June 2024 - 5:36pm

The Environmental Health Division joins the World Health Organization (WHO) in observing World Food Safety Day today June 7 under the theme “Prepare for the Unexpected”.

Deputy Chief Environmental Health Officer, Ms. Henrietta Alexander said that the purpose of the day is to draw attention to and being prepared for food safety incidents no matter how mild or severe they can be.

Food Safety incidents according to WHO are situations where there is a potential or confirmed health risk associated with food consumption. A food incident can happen, for example, due to accidents, inadequate controls, food fraud or natural events.

Ms. Alexander said, “The hurricane season is upon us and we want to take this time to reiterate the importance of preparing for the unexpected. Depending on the intensity of the hurricane, power outages occur which increases the susceptibility of perishable food and that is why it is important that persons know how to prepare.”

Ms. Alexander said the following tips that can help to protect food during the unpredictable hurricane season.

Before a weather event:

· Shop ahead of time for non-perishable food.

· Look for date marking of goods (expiration, best by (BB) or best before (BBE) dates)

· Examine non-perishable food (canned food) for signs of bloating or denting.

· Purchase an appliance thermometer for refrigerator and freezer. Place the thermometer at the front of the cold storage unit and monitor the temperature. In the refrigerator, the temperature should maintain at 41°F (5°C) or lower. In the freezer, the temperature should be at 0°F (-18°C) or lower.

· Buy ice packs and coolers.

· Make own ice.

· Buy dry or block ice.

· If power will be out for more than 4 hours, do the following:

- relocate perishable food to a cooler of ice

- place perishable food in the freezer.

During a weather event:

· A refrigerator that is kept closed will hold safe temperatures for up to 4 hours.

· A full freezer kept closed will hold at safe temperatures for 48 hours. If the freezer storage is half filled, it will hold for 24 hours.

After a weather event:

· Pay attention to the temperature of the cold storage unit with the use of the thermometer.

· If food is in the temperature danger zone and you are in doubt about its safety, throw it out!

· Once the cold storage unit is 41°F [5°C] or lower, the food is deemed safe.

· If cold storage unit is 41°F [5°C] or higher for more than 4 hours, discard foods such as milk-based items, raw meat, seafood or poultry and products like, egg and egg products, opened baby formula, cut fruits, cooked foods such as rice and produce

· Foods to keep: peanut butter, fresh and uncut produce.

· Discard any food that has come into contact with flood water

The Environmental Health Division is committed to ensuring that all aspects of the environment with the potential to negatively impact the health of the population are managed efficiently to enable all persons in the BVI to attain and maintain optimal health and well-being.


Natasha Lettsome-Humphrey

Public Health Communications Specialist
Ministry of Health/Social Development
Telephone: 468-2286