Safe and hygienic food is as important as nutritious food. Food mishandling can make food unfit for consumption due to various reasons like contamination, spoilage or adulteration.
The second World Food Safety Day (WFSD) will be celebrated on 7 June 2020, to draw attention and inspire action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks, contributing to food security, human health, economic prosperity, agriculture, market access, tourism and sustainable development.
Theme for 2020 is “Food Safety, Everyone’s Business”
- Ensure it’s safe – Government must ensure safe and nutritious food for all
- Grow it safe – Agriculture and food producers need to adopt good practices
- Keep it safe – Business operators must make sure food is safe
- Eat it safe – All consumers have a right to safe, healthy and nutritious food
- Team up for safety – Food Safety is a shared responsibility
Facts and figures as per WHO
- An estimated 600 million people in the world – almost 1 in 10 – fall ill after eating contaminated food and 420 000 die every year.
- Children under 5 years of age carry 40 percent of the foodborne disease burden, with 125 000 deaths every year.
- Foodborne illnesses are usually infectious or toxic in nature and caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances entering the body through contaminated food or water.
- Recent estimates indicate that the impact of unsafe food costs low and middle-income economies around US$ 95 billion in lost productivity each year.
- Each year, an estimated 700,000 people die around the globe because of antimicrobial resistant infections.
Food Spoilage and factors affecting it
Growth of unwanted microorganisms on food spoils the food and makes it unfit for consumption. Spoilage may cause changes in colour, flavour, texture and/or nutritional value of food.Factors Affecting food Spoilage:
- Temperature: Environmental and storage temperature influence the growth of microorganisms. Microbes grow faster at a warm temperature.
- Moisture: Foods with higher amounts of moisture aids the growth of microbes faster. Dry foods will not spoil easily.
- The composition of food: Germs grow rapidly in protein rich food such as milk, meat, poultry, and uncovered food.
Food Contamination and its types
Food contamination: It refers to the presence of harmful chemicals and microorganisms in food, which can cause consumer illness. Food contamination can be of four types.
- Biological contamination: With bacterial or fungal growth on the surface of the food.
- Physical contamination: Hair strands, pet fur or dust particle
- Chemical contamination: Pesticides or insecticides sprayed on fruits or vegetables. These are the most harmful group of contaminants.
- Cross-contamination: When contaminants transfer from one source to another like dirty utensils, sinks or kitchen towels. It can also transfer from raw to cooked food.
Adulteration of food is the intentional addition of certain inedible ingredients into food to commercially make it profitable, making the food unfit for consumption. It also hampers the food quality immensely. Food can be adulterated with chemicals, dyes, hormones or flavour enhancers. There are different techniques to check and analyse food adulteration for which one can refer to the food adulteration handbook given by FSSAI.
Tips to know if Food is Safe to Consume
- Be alert while buying food, use sensory techniques to check food like touching , smelling and closely examining the food for the texture, unpleasant odour or spots and dents respectively.
- Check for manufacturing and expiry date of packaged food and refrain from buying if any of it is tampered.
- Check for FSSAI license on food products.
- Do not fall for unusually appealing and shiny fruits and vegetables as they might be artificially made to look attractive by use of various chemicals, wax or oils.
- Clean the kitchen counter, sinks and chopping boards before and after every use to avoid cross contamination.
- Avoid keeping raw and cooked food together.
- Get seasonal and local crops, vegetables and fruits to avoid mishandling of food at various stages of procurement.
A safe and healthy food is every individual’s right. As said by WHO if it’s not safe, it’s not food hence always be alert and report if any intentional adulteration is observed and be a responsible citizen to get the availability of safe food.