Written by Tim Hassall, Head of Risk & Compliance.
Tim has over 20+ years of experience in Food Safety, and is Level 4 HACCP certified. Below, he details the importance of Food Safety and how we can use best practice to keeps ourselves safe & healthy.
Food is essential within our lives, but how often do we really think about the safety of the food we are eating?
Wednesday 7th June marks World Food Safety Day, a day that highlights the importance of good food hygiene. With an increasing demand for food worldwide, it’s imperative to understand why food safety matters and how it affects us all.
In this blog post, we’ll explore why World Food Safety Day matters and what steps you can take to ensure your own food safety. So let’s dive in!
What is World Food Safety Day?
World Food Safety Day is an event that raises awareness of the importance of food safety and inspires action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks, contributing to food security, human health, economic prosperity, agricultural production, market access, tourism and sustainable development.
It was established by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2018 and first celebrated on 7th June 2019.
The day provides an opportunity for countries, governments, businesses, society and individuals to come together and commit to taking action on food safety. Good food hygiene is essential to preventing foodborne illnesses, which can have serious consequences for our health.
Everyone has a role to play in keeping food safe, from farmers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers. On World Food Safety Day, let’s all pledge to do our part in ensuring the food we eat is safe!
The Need for Good Food Hygiene
We all know that good food hygiene is important, but a reminder is not a bad thing. That’s why World Food Safety Day is so important. It’s a day to raise awareness about the importance of good food hygiene and to encourage everyone to take action to prevent foodborne illnesses – keeping ourselves/others safe and healthy.
Foodborne illnesses are a major public health problem. They cause sickness, suffering and even death in some extreme cases. By following good food hygiene practices, we can minimise our risk of becoming ill. This includes washing our hands with soap and water before handling food, keeping raw and cooked foods separate, cooking food thoroughly, storing food at the right temperature and avoiding cross-contamination.
Food safety is a shared responsibility between consumers, producers and retailers. We all have a role to play in preventing foodborne illnesses by paying attention to proper food hygiene practices. So let’s do our part to make sure everyone has access to safe and nutritious food!
Causes of Poor Food Hygiene
An important thing you can do to prevent foodborne illness is to practise good food hygiene. Poor food hygiene can lead to contamination of food with bacteria, viruses, or toxins, which can cause illness. There are many causes of poor food hygiene, including:
- Food handling – improper food handling can contaminate food with bacteria or toxins. For example, if raw meat is not cooked properly, it can contaminate other foods it comes into contact with.
- Food preparation – if food is not prepared properly, it can become contaminated. E.g. if vegetables are not washed they may contain harmful bacteria.
- Poor hygiene – inadequate hygiene can lead to contamination of food and surfaces with bacteria or toxins. E.g. if hands are not washed properly after using the toilet, they can spread bacteria to food.
- Poor storage – if food is not stored properly, it can become contaminated. E.g. if perishable foods are not refrigerated, they may spoil and become unsafe to eat.
- Cross-contamination – cross-contamination occurs when bacteria or toxins from one food source contaminate another. E.g. if raw meat is not stored properly, its juices can drip onto other foods and contaminate them.
- Animal contact – if animals come into contact with food, they can contaminate it with bacteria, parasites, or viruses. E.g. if a mouse comes into contact with food, it can spread salmonella bacteria through its urine and other bodily fluids.
Best Practices for Good Food Hygiene
Everyone has a role to play, from producers to consumers, we all have a responsibility to ensure that the food we eat is safe and clean.
There are many simple steps that we can all take to promote good food hygiene. Here are just a few:
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often, especially before handling food.
- Keep your kitchen clean and free from clutter.
- Store food properly to prevent contamination.
- Use separate cutting boards for raw meat and fresh produce.
- Clean up spills immediately.
- Avoid cross-contamination by keeping cooked and raw foods separate.
- Cook food to the correct temperature and check it with a thermometer.
- Refrigerate or freeze leftovers promptly and reheat them fully before eating.
- Checking expiration dates on food products and discard anything that is past its use by date, if its best before is expired use your eyes and nose to check for bacteria growth or smell .
- Dispose of any spoiled food properly and safely by wrapping it and throwing it away.
By following these simple tips, you can help ensure that the food you serve is safe and enjoyable for everyone.
Benefits of Adopting Good Food Hygiene
There are many benefits to adopting good food hygiene. 1 in 10 people worldwide falls ill from contaminated food each year. It affects all countries. Over 200 diseases are caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances such as heavy metals. Children under 5 make up 9 percent of the population, but carry 40 percent of the foodborne disease burden.
Perhaps the most obvious is that it can help prevent food poisoning. According to the Food Standards Agency , there are approximately 2.4 million cases of foodborne illness in Britain each year, and 180 result in death. Practising good food hygiene can help reduce these numbers.
In addition to preventing food poisoning, good food hygiene can also help improve the shelf life of food. This is especially important for perishable items like fruits and vegetables. Properly storing and handling these items can help them last longer, which can save money and reduce waste.
Good food hygiene habits can create a more pleasant dining experience for everyone involved. Who wants to eat at a dirty restaurant? Or sit next to someone on a plane who just polished off a greasy burger? No one! By keeping our food clean and safe, we make sure that everyone can enjoy their meal – and maybe even make some new friends in the process.
World Food Safety Day is an important reminder of the importance of good food hygiene. As a global community, we need to be vigilant in promoting safe food handling practices and supporting initiatives that raise awareness about the dangers posed by contaminated food. We all have a responsibility to help create and maintain an environment where everyone has access to affordable, safe, and nutritious foods for our overall wellbeing. By doing so, we can ensure that no one experiences any unnecessary suffering related to unsafe or unhealthy diets.