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Why WHO Recommends Eating Cooked Food ‘Immediately’

Why WHO Recommends Eating Cooked Food ‘Immediately’


Food safety is a critical concern for everyone. The World Health Organization (WHO) emphasizes the importance of consuming cooked food promptly to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses. In this article, we explore the reasons behind this recommendation and how it can safeguard our health.


  1. Bacterial Growth: When food is left at room temperature, bacteria multiply rapidly. Consuming food immediately after cooking prevents bacterial growth and reduces the chances of contamination.
  2. Temperature Danger Zone: The “temperature danger zone” (between 40°F and 140°F or 4°C and 60°C) is where bacteria thrive. Eating freshly cooked food ensures that it remains outside this danger zone.
  3. Nutrient Retention: Freshly cooked meals retain more nutrients. Delayed consumption may lead to nutrient loss due to exposure to air, light, and heat.
  4. Reduced Spoilage: Prompt consumption minimizes the time food spends in the “danger zone,” preventing spoilage and maintaining taste and quality.
  5. Safe Storage: If immediate consumption isn’t possible, refrigerate or freeze leftovers promptly to prevent bacterial growth.

Additional Statistics

  • Each year, unsafe food causes 600 million cases of foodborne diseases worldwide.
  • Approximately 420,000 people die annually due to foodborne illnesses.
  • Shockingly, 30% of foodborne deaths occur among children under 5 years of age.
  • WHO estimates that a staggering 33 million years of healthy lives are lost globally each year due to eating unsafe food.
  • In terms of economic impact, US$ 110 billion is lost annually in productivity and medical expenses resulting from unsafe food in low- and middle-income countries.


In a world where food safety is paramount, WHO’s golden rule—eating cooked food immediately—acts as a powerful shield against foodborne illnesses. By following this simple practice, we not only protect our health but also contribute to a safer global food ecosystem. Remember, each meal is an opportunity to safeguard our well-being and that of our loved ones. So, let’s savour our freshly cooked dishes promptly and prioritize our health above all else.


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