Time to Celebrate Food Safety Day
It’s not everyday that food safety gets attention from the global community. Often times food safety is relegated to the boring scientific circles of an unseen niche industry or the punishing experience of hugging the porcelain throne after a bad night of 2am nachos. Today that changes. Food safety gets its opportunity to step into the spotlight as something more than a buzzword but as a global initiative to change the way we view access to healthy and safe foods. For the next 24 hours the importance of providing food and nutrition security will be top of mind. To quote the United Nations World Assembly, “food safety is everyone’s business”.
A Global Way Forward
In 2018 the United Nations General Assembly gathered to create a day that would bring more awareness to the proper storage, preparation, and disposal of foods around the world. The goal was to create a yearly celebration of everything food safety. Leading the charge for awareness is the World Health Organization in collaboration with the Agricultural Organization to the United Nations. These organizations are tasked with working with UN member states to help push this initiative… very literally around the world.
Why Food Safety?
When faced with the clamoring of terrorism, global warming, and geopolitical turbulence the importance of food safety can seem rather insignificant. Sure, it’s important but is an upset stomach really worthy of its own day? The short answer is yes. Food safety is more than just food poisoning. From a higher vantage point, access to sustainable and safe foods is a matter of national security. Lack of nutrition and foodborne illnesses have the capabilities to gravely cripple an economy. Unrest and warfare are often caused by starvation and the lack of sanitary subsistence. Healthcare systems can be strained under the burden of malnourished citizens while the greater economy can be affected by workers unable to perform at peak productivity.
The Realities of Foodborne Illness
Many of those above mentioned issues sound abstract, but what are the actual numbers facing the world in relation to food safety? Around the world 1 in 10 people fall ill to contaminated food. That is nearly 600 million cases of potentially unavoidable sickness. Of those 600 million 40% of foodborne related issues will occur in children under the age of 5 years old. If those numbers weren’t staggering enough, 125,000 children under the age of 5 years old die every year related to foodborne illness. Who knows how many Einsteins, Mozarts, and Welchs may have been lost because of a fairly preventable issue. Illness linked to food often strikes the most vulnerable. Populations of children, the impoverished, the elderly, and pregnant women are often faced with the highest risk.
So What Does Food Safety Day Mean for Me?
Like many large issues facing our human civilization the solutions to fixing the problem are often diverse and multi-pronged. The global food supply is a complex web of interconnected parts representing production, storage, transportation, and distribution. Each component has varying degrees of liability related to food safety. Most people reading this article are not going to be the data scientist or food safety manager for a slaughterhouse, but everyone reading this article eats food. Here are a few things consumers can do to ensure food safety is a top priority at home.
Know the common food hazards like proper refrigeration storage and shelf life.
Understand the proper temperatures for cooking meats.
Learn how to handle food properly by reading the food labels.
Make informed decisions on where and what to eat.
Wash food items.
Wash your hands before, during, and after handling food.
If you serve food or work with food in any commercial sense the list of consumer safety tips also apply but with an even greater emphasis from a legal perspective. Storing refrigerated food properly and ensuring temperatures remain in check can often be a daunting and time consuming task. On this Food Safety Day perhaps it is best to leverage technology to eliminate the tedium of manually recording temperatures by using a product like TempGuard.
Wrapping it Up
Rather than wait until the next time you have an upset stomach, start practicing food safety in your home, in your business, and share the message to those who may not be doing the same. Food Safety is more than a once-a-year celebration. It is a lifestyle that all of us can adopt for a better healthier world. After all, food safety is everyone’s business.