Health chief: Do not turn off fridges to save money as cost of living bites

·2 min read

People have been urged not to turn their fridges off as they face rising costs of energy.

Health chief Dame Jenny Harries said that people should also try and keep the heating on “particularly those at the extreme ages of life”.

She said she had heard of people switching their fridges off to save on fuel bills but this “creates the risk of infection in food”.

Dame Jenny, the chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think one of the important things here is people recognise the importance of spending what will likely be for many people very limited resource on heating, because that is an essential part of their health.

“We’re very aware of this, and I think I’ve heard anecdotally, for example, people turning off fridges – clearly that creates the risk of infection in food.

“So, it is really important people keep their fridges on and keep their heating on, particularly at the extreme ages of life.”

Food poisoning can occur when foods are not stored at the correct temperature.

Cold temperatures slow the growth of bacteria and people are encouraged to keep their fridge temperature at 4C.

Meanwhile, UK health advice urges people to make sure that they heat their homes to at least 18C in winter as this “poses minimal risk to health” when residents are wearing suitable clothing.

It comes after it was suggested that energy bills could hit £5,500 next April.

Gas prices spiked again on Monday and unless they drop in the coming months, average households could be facing an annual energy bill of £4,650 from January and £5,456 from April, according to energy consultancy Auxilione.

On Tuesday, public health minister Maggie Throup told LBC radio that “if people are reassured about their own health, then it helps to take the pressure off some other other concerns that they may have”.

She also said that it was “right” to wait until a new leader is in place to deal with the cost-of-living crisis.

Experts say people can save money by switching off televisions and other devices at the mains rather than letting them stay on standby.