World Health Day: How Safe Is Your Food?

large-poster-hi-res_001Today is World Health Day! Each year, the World Health Organization draws worldwide attention to a subject of major importance to global health. This year’s theme is food safety. Unsafe food, such as food that may contain harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemicals, is the cause of death for more than two million people, mostly children, every year.

In recent years, there have been several major changes in the ways that food is produced, distributed and consumed. While this fact alone is not necessarily a threat, as a nation we need to ensure that standards are imposed and met in a way that does not compromise food safety in light of these changes. Over the past half century, the process by which food gets from the farm to the plate has changed drastically. Food contamination that occurs in one place may affect the health of consumers living on the other side of the planet. This means that everyone along the production chain, from producer to consumer, must observe safe food handling practices.

Other challenges to food safety are the new and emerging pathogens, as well as an increasing antimicrobial resistance, some of which has been in the news recently.

The WHO is working with countries and partners to strengthen efforts to prevent, detect and respond to foodborne disease and is raising awareness about the importance of the part everyone can play in ensuring that the food on our plate is safe to eat.

I have been encouraging Ryan to “chef” with me so that he becomes more confident in cooking. As we cook, I try to remind him of food safety tips. These tips are important to teach all children as they learn to “chef” in their own kitchens:

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  • Always wash hands before and after preparing food.
  • Cook meat, poultry, fish and eggs thoroughly. Use a cooking thermometer to make sure meats are a safe temp for eating.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables well before eating.
  • Always check the expiration date – don’t use food that has expired!
  • Follow your nose and eyes – if fish or meat has a strong odor or looks like the “wrong” color, don’t eat it!
  • Never rinse raw chicken, which can spread dangerous bacteria such as E.coli or salmonella.

For more great tips on food safety visit: http://kidshealth.org/teen/food_fitness/nutrition/food_safety.html#

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