How Safe Is Your Food?

World Health Day 2015

In the spirit of World Health Day, we’re tackling the subject of food safety. If you’ve ever wondered how to keep your food safe before you eat it, you’re in luck. We’re going to cover the World Health Organization’s five keys to safer food, some interesting food safety facts, as well as reasons to keep your food safe in the first place.

WHY DOES FOOD SAFETY MATTER?

In short, consuming unsafe food can cause you to get sick and may lead to stomach pains, diarrhea, vomiting, fever and in extreme cases, even death. If you’ve ever eaten food that’s gone bad, you may have had to take an unexpected trip to the doctor or been incapable of doing much more than leaving your bed.

Food illness can affect us all on a macro level as well. For instance, did you know that …

  • Each year, millions of people fall ill due to eating unsafe food. In fact, diarrheal diseases alone kill an estimated 1.5 million children per year
  • Foodborne illnesses cause about 300,000 hospitalizations a year in the U.S., and are more severe on vulnerable populations like the elderly, infants, sick people and pregnant mothers
  • Some foodborne illnesses can develop even before reaching consumers. Opportunities present themselves all along the food supply chain during slaughtering or harvesting, processing, storage and distribution
  • The overuse and misuse of antimicrobials in agriculture and animal husbandry contribute to the spread of antimicrobial resistance, which can be transmitted to humans through food
  • In the United States, food recalls cost companies around $7 billion every year

With all of this information, the view of food safety looks bleak. However, there’s good news on the horizon. If you follow the five simple steps to come, you can enjoy your food without ever worrying about any of the nasty effects that accompany consuming spoiled food.

THE FIVE KEYS TO SAFER FOOD

  1. Keep clean – When handling or eating food, always wash your hands first to prevent contamination.
  2. Separate raw and cooked foods – When preparing meals, make sure to use different cutting boards or surfaces for raw and cooked foods. For example, keep raw chicken or beef away from other ingredients like bread, rice or vegetables. This will help you avoid cross contamination.
  3. Cook thoroughly – When cooking meats like steak, chicken, pork or fish, make sure the internal temperature reaches at least 145 degrees before serving. This helps kill any bacteria that may be living inside.
  4. Keep food at safe temperatures – When storing foods, always keep them at safe temperatures, either hot or cold. Keep hot foods at 140 degrees or higher, and keep cold foods at 42 degrees or less.
  5. Use safe water and safe raw materials – When planning a meal, make sure to use fresh, wholesome foods. Never use foods beyond their expiration date, and always wash them with clean water before using.

To learn more about food safety and World Health Day, click here.

Resources:
//www.who.int/features/factfiles/food_safety/facts/en/
//money.howstuffworks.com/10-food-recalls.htm

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