World Food Safety Day-2020

COVID-19 and Food Safety

COVID-19 Pandemic affects the way food is produced and in turn the way food is produced affects how people or communities are protected against COVID-19. There is a connection between food, immunity, well-being and the body’s ability to prevent COVID-19 transmission. So, in order to prevent food-related or linked vulnerability to COVID-19, it is better we understood how to maintain food hygiene. There are five food hygiene best-practices we should adopt and maintain.

Food hygiene is an important aspect of food production, preparation, consumption and preservation. By ensuring food hygiene, we are reducing the chances pathogens can colonise or make home in our foods through exposure. Pathogens are disease causing organisms.

According to WHO, food hygiene are all those conditions and measures necessary to ensure the safety of food from production to consumption.

Food can become contaminated at any point during slaughtering or harvesting, processing, storage, distribution, transportation and preparation.

Lack of adequate food hygiene can lead to foodborne diseases and death of consumers.

Promoting safe food handling through systematic disease prevention and health education programmes directed to food handlers, including the consumers is important.

Foodborne and waterborne diarrhoeal diseases are a problem for every country in the world but they can be prevented.

Diarrhoea is the acute, most common symptom of foodborne illness, but other serious consequences include kidney and liver failure, brain and neural disorders, reactive arthritis, cancer and death.

It is important to acquire the social skills through building capacity to prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks. Some of the activities include community mobilisation, awareness raising, providing food hygiene complaint infrastructure, generating baseline and trend data on foodborne diseases and supporting implementation of adequate infrastructures (e.g. laboratories, clean markets, refrigeration and access to proper food preparation facilities).

Each year worldwide, unsafe food causes 600 million cases of foodborne diseases and 420 000 deaths. 30% of foodborne deaths occur among children under 5 years of age. WHO estimated that 33 million years of healthy lives are lost due to eating unsafe food globally each year, and this number is likely an underestimation.

Foodborne diseases are preventable and WHO has a critical role in taking global leadership in investment and coordinated action across multiple sectors in order to build strong and resilient national food safety systems and provide consumers with tools to make safe food choices. With food safety receiving relatively little political attention, especially in developing countries, having a reliable data on the actual national burden of foodborne diseases is essential to draw public attention and mobilize political will and resources to combat foodborne diseases.

There five best-practices one can maintain: keep clean to avoid contamination; separate raw food from dry ones and avoid preparing them in same spot; fully cook your foods as this kills pathogens; keep your foods at the right and safe temperatures to avoid growth of pathogens; and use safe water and all raw materials to avoid contamination.

Food hygiene prevents food borne infections which in turn may expose one to illnesses and loss of life. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that people are aware of the link between poor food handling and vulnerability to diseases such as COVID-19. This will then empower them to make informed decisions about how to avoid food borne diseases, hunger and detrimental food handling practices.



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