World Food Safety Day, observed on June 7 every year, is marked to raise awareness about the health hazards associated with unsafe food and to highlight the significance of hygiene in daily life. It is held to draw attention to food safety and inspire action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks.
According to WHO, the magnitude of the public health burden due to foodborne diseases is comparable to that of malaria or HIV AIDS. The fact that one in ten people worldwide fall ill from contaminated food each year and that over 200 diseases are caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances such as heavy metals, makes it imperative to take the issue of food safety seriously and an important step towards it to raise awareness about safe food and food hygiene.
The theme of 2022
The theme for World Food Safety Day 2022 is ‘Safer food, better health’. The theme emphasises the role that nutritional food plays in ensuring human health and well-being. The theme also appeals for a set of specific actions so that food can be made safer.
The significance of the day
According to the UN, around 600 million cases of foodborne illnesses are reported every year which makes unsafe food one of the most concerning threats for human health. Diseases arising from unhygienic food affect the most vulnerable people and marginalised sections of society, especially children, women, and victims of conflicts.
As per the global organisation, about 4,20,000 people around the world die every year after consuming contaminated food. Children under five years carry 40 per cent of the burden of foodborne diseases, with 1,25,000 deaths each year.
These illnesses are caused by parasites, viruses, and bacteria present in contaminated food and water. Food safety thus becomes important to ensure that food stays safe and hygienic at every stage of the food chain — from harvesting and processing to storage and distribution.
The history of World Safety Day
Realising the impact of foodborne diseases on children and adults, especially those residing in low and middle-income countries, in 2018 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed that June 7 would be celebrated as World Food Safety Day annually. Later, in 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) passed a resolution to strengthen the global effort for food safety. The day is jointly observed by WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in collaboration with various stakeholders, including UN member-states.
How to ensure food safety
Simple steps on a daily basis can ensure that the food you eat is safe. Always wash raw food to remove all the dirt and bacteria from the surface of the food item. Also, make sure that you keep raw food items like eggs, meat, fish, etc, aside from other food items. If possible, use a separate chopping board.
It’s important to properly cook the food as it helps in destroying unhealthy bacteria, making the food safe for consumption. If food is left over, refrigerate it properly. Store the cooked food in an air-tight container while raw food such as meat and fish should be in the freezer.