Children 'food poisoned after fridges are turned off'

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Woman with baby looks in fridgeImage source, Getty Images
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Food bank staff said appliances were being turned off by families to save electricity

Children are suffering from food poisoning because parents are turning off fridges to save money, a food bank in Cornwall has claimed.

Truro Food Bank said it had been told that other appliances were also not being used to save electricity as the cost of living crisis deepens.

Staff said they knew of some children going to school in unwashed clothes as people used washing machines less.

The government said £22bn was being made available for support nationwide.

Truro Food Bank manager Simon Fann said: "[We have had] reports of children having upset stomachs, or, in worst cases, food poisoning because some parents are turning their fridges and freezers off overnight."

Mr Fann also said that demand had increased, with contributions decreasing.

He said: "The level of need we're experiencing is now going up and outstripping the donations we're getting at the moment.

"That might indicate that people who were able to donate are now struggling themselves. They're not sure about their own food security and so perhaps can't donate food in the way that they used to."

Image caption,
Food bank staff said that demand had increased and was outstripping donations

New research from the charity Action for Children said more than half of the families being supported by its crisis fund were on Universal Credit.

It said this suggested families on benefits were unable to meet basic living costs, particularly after the cut of the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift brought in to help recipients during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Energy Saving Trust said it did not recommend turning fridges or freezers off "for any amount of time" as they are "designed to be kept on all the time and it's important for food safety reasons to store your food at the appropriate temperature".

Trust knowledge manager Joanna O'Loan also said appliances' temperatures could be adjusted "so check you're not running yours lower than it needs to be, as it uses more energy the cooler it is - the Food Standards Agency recommends the fridge is set at 5C (41F).

The government said it understood the pressures people were facing and that £22bn worth of support in the current financial year would help families coping with these global challenges.

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