Everything you need to know about World Food Safety Day – The Waste Management & Recycling Blog
Did you know that foodborne diseases affect around 1 in 10 of us annually? With over 200 identified diseases, some of them deadly, ensuring food safety has never been more important.
This is why, each year, World Food Safety Day aims to draw attention to and encourage action to prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks.
What is World Food Safety Day?
World Food Safety Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2018 and is observed by the WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
It takes place on the 7th June every year and often coincides with Food Safety Week, acknowledged by many as a week-long event to raise awareness on proper food safety and management.
In 2022, the theme for World Food Safety Day is ‘safer food, better health’, aiming to highlight the lifelong health impacts of effectively reducing foodborne risks.
Why is World Food Safety Day important?
The globally recognized event brings attention to the devastating effects of foodborne diseases, which mostly affect vulnerable groups of people.
World Food Safety encourages consumers and vendors to remain informed and promote food safety. By making these safe and healthy decisions, people will help reduce the global burden of food diseases and support sustainable food systems.
What are the benefits of food safety?
Practising better food hygiene has many benefits within a range of environments.
In the body, food health and safety are linked to the improved uptake of nutrients from food, promoting long term health as well as improved child growth and development.
Fewer illnesses from foodborne diseases also mean less strain on a country’s healthcare system. Fewer absences from the workplace help keep a prosperous and healthy economy too.
For restaurants, food vendors, and street markets, having good food safety helps businesses longevity. Increased customer trust, better workplace conditions, and improved product potential all contribute to higher revenues.
How are foodborne illnesses caused and spread?
With over 420,000 people dying from food-related illnesses each year, understanding the cause of and preventing the spread of the various diseases is paramount.
Bacteria is the main cause of foodborne illnesses and is usually spread when diseased food or water is consumed. Undercooked poultry, raw milk, contaminated fruits and vegetables, and even dirty drinking water have been known to cause Salmonella, Campylobacter and enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli, and more.
Viruses such as Hepatitis A and Norovirus can be transmitted through food, typically spreading through raw or undercooked seafood or contaminated raw produce.
Parasites can spread through both the consumption of food or direct contact with animals, depending on the type. Other parasites, such as Ascaris, Cryptosporidium, Entamoeba histolytica or Giardia, can enter the food chain via water or soil and, contaminated fresh produce.
The infamous mad cow disease is what’s known as a prion, an infectious agent composed of protein. They are associated with specific forms of neurodegenerative diseases, which also include the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in humans. They are spread through consuming certain meat products, such as brain tissue.
Perhaps most concerning are foodborne illnesses caused by the chemicals we now find in our foods. Naturally occurring toxins include mycotoxins, marine biotoxins, cyanogenic glycosides and toxins occurring in poisonous mushrooms. These are found in corn and cereals, and long-term exposure has been linked to problems with the immune system, development, and some cancers.
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are unwanted byproducts of industrial processes and waste incineration, found worldwide and accumulating in animal food chains. Some of these, including dioxins, can cause fertility, immune system, and developmental problems, and even cause cancers.
Water and soil polluted with heavy metals, such as lead, cadmium, and mercury can cause neurological and kidney damage.
How to practice good food safety
Following proper food safety and hygiene wherever you are will go a long way in helping to lower the number of foodborne illnesses reported each year. Following these simple tips is a great way to start.
As most of our food is prepared and eaten at home, kitchen hygiene is perhaps the most important. With over 40% of fatalities from food-related diseases occurring in children under 5, encouraging your little ones to get involved with good food safety is crucial.
Always wash your hands before handling food, and often throughout the preparation process. When finished, sterilize the food contaminated surfaces after each use.
Uncooked food spreads bacteria easily to ready-to-eat foods. Separate raw and cooked items, never using the same chopping board or utensils between the two groups before first cleaning and sterilizing them.
Cook your food thoroughly, especially if it contains meat, poultry, seafood or eggs. A food thermometer will allow you to check – place it in the thickest part of the food and make sure it reaches a temperature of 70C.
Wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly with clean water before preparing them, but don’t wash your poultry – this can actually spread bacteria around the kitchen.
Take note of the best before and use by dates on your products, checking for changes in colour, texture and smell before preparing. Storing your food below 5C will help maintain its optimum freshness before you’re ready to eat it.
Teach your kids about these Five Keys to Safer Food:
- Keep clean
- Separate raw and cooked
- Cook thoroughly
- Keep food at safe temperatures
- Use safe water and raw materials
By sharing this knowledge from a young age, they’ll absorb this way of cooking and food preparation to help reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses in the future.
In the workplace
Many of us spend most of our days in an office or workplace environment.
As employees, we can safely navigate shared kitchen spaces by following the above food safety tips. However, for employers, a food safety management system is required.
Ensure all food safety regulations, including the food safety act, are met in food halls, canteens, and eating areas. Provide adequate and regular training for all food handlers, and consider including food safety education training as part of employees’ professional development.
Make sure there are safe spaces for employees to wash and prepare fruits and vegetables, as well as enough space to store and reheat their food.
Finally, be sure to oversee the proper disposal of all food waste. At Forge, we work with businesses to meet their needs when it comes to the safe disposal and recycling of food waste. We can collect most leftover food items directly from the premises, leaving businesses with a lighter general waste bin, a smaller carbon footprint, and avoiding Landfill Tax.