April 7: World Health Day focuses on Food Safety

For World Health Day today, the World Health Organization declares food safety as the most important global issue related to our health. "From farm to plate, make food safe," is the campaign's headline launched last week to spread awareness around unsafe food and water that causes a range of deaths and diseases. 

5 Keys to Food Safety

  • Maintain cleanliness
  • Separate raw and cooked food
  • Cook thoroughly
  • Keep food at correct temperature
  • Use safe water and raw materials.

In 2010 alone, food-borne illnesses affected more than 582 million people and killed 351,000. Over 200 diseases are caused by unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses, chemical substances from diarrhea to cancer.

  • Common causes of death were Salmonella (52,000), E. coli (37,000) and norovirus (35,000)

World Health Organization Urges Policymakers to:

  • place stricter food safety policies
  • implementation is key
  • trained workforce
  • inform consumers

Factors that affect food safety

  • climate change’s impact on food production
  • GMO v. Non-GMO food
  • emerging biological and environmental contamination
  • new technologies
  • new foodborne infections and diseases
  • antimicrobial resistance through the food chain
    • food safety policies span across countries and various cultures because  food passes through multiple hands before it gets to the consumer
    • focus on improvement food safety and quality through application of good farming practices            
  • require farmers to use agro-chemicals or veterinary drugs only as prescribed
  • good storage, transportation, retail and restaurant practices must be implemented to make food safe.
  • food safety today also covers issues such as genetically modified foods. Food is supplemented with Micronutrients and vitamins. Food safety should be a part of food security and nutrition programm in countries.

Tips for World Health Day

 The U.S. Department of Agriculture has launched a new app called FoodKeeper which will help you learn about proper food storage and optimizing freshness. 

WHO’s Recommended Guidelines

1. Keep clean
Wash hands before handling food and often during food preparation
Wash hands after going to the toilet
Wash and sanitize surfaces and equipment used for food preparation
Protect kitchen areas and food from animals and insects

2. Separate raw and cooked
Separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods
Use separate equipment and utensils such as knives, cutting boards for handling raw foods
Store food in containers to avoid contact between raw and prepared foods

3. Cook it thoroughly
Cook food thoroughly, especially meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood
Bring foods like soups and stews to boiling to make sure they have reached 70C. For meat and poultry make sure juices run clear, not pink. Ideally, use a thermometer.
Reheat cooked food thoroughly

4. Keep food at safe temperatures
Do not leave cooked food at room temperature for more than two hours
Refrigerate promptly all cooked and perishable food (preferably below 5C)
Keep cooked food piping hot (more than 60C) prior to serving
Do not store food too long even in the refrigerator
Do not thaw frozen food at room temperature

5. Use safe water and raw materials
Use safe water or treat it to make it safe
Select fresh and wholesome foods
Choose foods processed for safety, such as pasteurized milk
Wash fruits and vegetables, especially if eaten raw

6. Do not use food beyond its expiration date