Here are some helpful tips for ensuring that the food on your plate is safe to eat.
Did you know…?
- More than 200 diseases are spread through food
- Every year millions of people fall ill and many die as a result of eating unsafe food
- Contaminated food can cause long-term health problems including cancer and neurological disorders
- For infants, pregnant women, the sick and the elderly, the consequences of foodborne disease are usually more severe and may be fatal
- Globalization complicates food safety and makes foodborne disease outbreak investigation and product recall in case of emergency more difficult
- Everyone has a role to play in keeping food safe—it is a shared responsibility between governments, industry, producers, academia, and consumers
- To improve food safety, a multitude of different professionals are working together, making use of the best available science and technologies
How can you make sure the food you are eating is safe?
Here are our top 3 suggestions for ensuring the food on your plate is #SafeFood:
1. Be well informed on common food hazards and pay attention to alerts in the media about products that may be contaminated.
Common Food Hazards:
- Biological hazards: Caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites that are present in air, food, water, soil, animals and humans
- Physical hazards: Foreign bodies in food usually due to accidental contamination and/or poor handling practices
- Chemical hazards: Most commonly include factory contaminants, cleaning chemical residues, agricultural residues or naturally occurring harmful chemicals
2. Understand food safety practices and know how to properly purchase, prepare, and store your food.
Handling Food Safely
- Shopping: Never choose products in packaging that is torn or leaking; and pick up frozen or refrigerated items after selecting your non-perishables
- Storage: Always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours; and cook or freeze fresh meats, fish or poultry within 2 days
- Preparation: Always wash hands with warm water and soap before and after handling food; avoid cross contamination by keeping raw meat and their juices away from other food; Sanitize cutting boards, utensils and counter tops after using raw meat
- Cooking: Cook all foods thoroughly and measure temperature of meat with a food thermometer before serving
- Leftovers: Use cooked leftovers within 4 days; and discard any food left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours
3. Know the difference between best before dates and expiration dates and never eat any food products that are expired.
Best Before Dates
- Best before dates must appear on pre-packaged foods that will keep fresh for 90 days or less, and are packaged at a place other than the retail store from which they are sold
- Best before dates do not guarantee product safety. However, they do give you information about the freshness and potential shelf-life of the unopened foods you are buying
- You can buy and eat foods after the best before date has passed, but be aware that the food may lose some of its freshness, flavour and nutritional value
- After the expiry date, the food may not have the same nutrient content declared on the label
- Food should not be eaten if the expiration date has passed. The item should be discarded immediately
Find out how well you know food safety by taking the quiz below. Then, try quizzing your friends and family to see how well they do! Answers are available at www.who.int/whd/quiz/en