Friday, 15 January 2021

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Do you know how safe your food is?


07 April 2015 – Today, we observe World Health Day. This year’s theme is food safety, emphasizing the importance of making sure the food we eat is not contaminated with potentially harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses, toxins and chemicals. To enable this, the World Health Organization (WHO) is raising awareness under the slogan “From farm to plate, make food safe”, making sure that you are informed that the food on your plate is safe to eat.

With an estimated 2 million deaths occurring every year from contaminated food or drinking water, food safety is a pressing issue.

WHO Director General Dr Margaret Chan states, “food production has been industrialized and its trade and distribution have been globalized. These changes introduce multiple new opportunities for food to become contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemicals.”

The effects of unsafe food and what the WHO is doing about it

The risks associated with this contamination are significant, as 200 diseases - ranging from diarrhoea to cancers – are caused by them. Moreover, economic impacts of unsafe food are illustrative of this severity as well, with the WHO reporting that Germany’s 2011 E.coli caused US$ 1.3 billion in losses for farmers and industries alone.

How can we react to this?

The WHO is tackling a variety of areas in its work on food safety. Amongst others, these include the promotion of safe food handling, developing scientific risk assessments with respect to microbiological and chemical risks and promoting the availability of safe, healthy and wholesome food.

Alongside the actions of the WHO, government, manufacturers and retailers, a powerful role is also to be played by the public, as efforts in e.g. El Salvador illustrate.

Local initiatives crucial to improving food safety

In El Salvador, an educational programme supported by WHO taught local women five keys to growing safer fruit and vegetables. These women are vital as they are the people most likely to pass on their knowledge to other people in their communities.

Rosameli Rodríguez, one of the programme’s participants says, “It has taught us a lot because we learn hygiene practices to grow fruits and vegetables, and with that we avoid many diseases.”

How much do you know about your food safety?

Do you know how safe the food you eat is? Through discovering the 10 facts on food safety and the five keys to safer food, the WHO is helping you on your way to be informed. A vital fact is that you – as, at the least, a consumer – have a role to play.

To enable you to do so, the WHO has also produced a factsheet on food safety providing a more thorough insight into the topic.

Go on and test your knowledge by taking the quiz, check out the infographic and do not forget to use the hashtag #safefood when talking about the campaign on social media!


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