World Food Safety Day is marked on June 7 every year to raise awareness about practices that can help prevent, detect, and manage foodborne risks.

According to WHO estimates, around 1,600,000 people around the world get sick due to unsafe food, and 340 children below the age of 5 die due to preventable foodborne diseases every day.

The theme of this year's World Food Safety Day: "Food standards save lives" highlights the importance of safe food practices to ensure what we eat is safe for us.

Bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemical substances entering the body through contaminated food can cause foodborne illnesses. Every year one in six Americans gets sick, at least 128,000 get hospitalized, and 3,000 die from various foodborne diseases.

Food poisoning is a type of foodborne illness caused by ingestion of contaminated food or drink.

Symptoms to look out for:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramp
  • Loss of appetite
  • High temperature and chills

If ingested food happens to have chemical contamination, it can lead to acute poisoning or long-term diseases such as cancer.

Tips to prevent contamination

Hand hygiene and clean cooking environment:

Washing hands thoroughly after using the toilet, touching raw meat or any other potentially contaminated surfaces can ensure the germs are not carried to the food. Simple precautions like covering the mouth while coughing, not spitting near food, or using gloves to handle ready-to-eat food can help in preventing contamination.

Separate raw and cooked food:

Storing raw and cooked food separately in the refrigerator, and using separate cutting boards and vessels for meat, fish, and poultry can prevent cross-contamination.

Use safe ingredients:

Use clean water for cooking. Ensure that all the ingredients used for preparation, including fruits, vegetables, and meats are fresh.

Ensure thorough cooking:

Using a food thermometer while cooking can help ensure that products like meat, poultry, and fish are cooked thoroughly before use. Cooking at an appropriate temperature will help to kill off harmful bacteria.

Store at a safe temperature:

Perishable food items should be stored properly in the refrigerator at the right temperature. The ideal temperature of a fridge is between 37°F to 40°F while the freezer should be kept below 0°F.

Watch out for the expiry date:

The expiry date on the store-bought product indicates the date by which the nutrient value of the food decreases and the product gets spoiled. Avoid using products after the expiry and watch out for signs of mold growth and spoilage.

Handle leftovers safely:

The leftovers should be refrigerated immediately after use and consumed at the earliest. Reheating the refrigerated leftovers at high temperatures can help in killing any possible bacteria formation.

Hand wash
Washing hands thoroughly can prevent food contamination. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock