“Food safety is an area of public health action to protect consumers. Unsafe food can lead to a range of health problems: diarrhoeal diseases, viral diseases, reproductive and developmental problems, lifestyle diseases and even cancers.”
Many of us over the years may have tried to keep our food fairly safe and who won’t when cholera, several other diarrhoeal diseases as well as lifestyle diseases keep breathing harshly down our necks.
As we discuss safety of our food let us remember that 1 in 9 people go to bed hungry each day while many of us waste food (#StopThewaste).
“Food safety: from farm unto plate and into our mouths, keep food safe”. This should be our goal and it involves many people but together we can make this possible.
Over 200 diseases are caused by unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses and chemical substances. How safe is your food?
About 2 million deaths occur every year from contaminated food or drinking water. That is quite easy to grasp, don’t you think so? How safe is your food?
Is your meal loaded with bacteria or salt, oil and sugar or does it have a fair dose of toxic chemicals? What is in your meal? Where did the ingredients come from? Were they properly and safely handled from every stage, from plate to farm? The World Health Organization (WHO) is pushing for action in these areas and a week that has hosted both WORLD FOOD DAY and GLOBAL HANDWASHING DAY is an ideal time to re-visit this issue.
There are several points where contamination of food may occur; the farm (chemicals and water among others), storage facilities, transportation, vendors and even with the consumers. Even when we do not contaminate the food directly, our poor hand washing culture may still lead to disease states.
WHO has developed FIVE KEYS to safer food and these are worth mastering;
1. Keep clean
2. Separate raw and cooked
3. Cook thoroughly
4. Keep food at safe temperatures
5. Use safe water and raw materials and I dare add a sixth
6. Read labels where necessary and avoid excess sugar, salt, oils and artificial sweeteners.
General Points to Master
· Together with policy makers, we all need to make food safety a priority.
· Think globally, act locally; after all food crosses international boundaries and what we do in our country may impact food safety in another country and vice versa.
· Inform yourself; read and understand food labels
· Handle, store and prepare food safely
o How safe is your kitchen for instance? The sponge, cutting surfaces, napkins may all be contaminated.
· Teach healthy practices to others
o Even when you take all the precautions, others may bring all your efforts to naught by feeding you with something that may cause you to become ill.
· Make wise choices
o Especially when preparing meals for children, pregnant woman, the elderly, sick and those with chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol.
Safe food is a must and we all have to work together to make it a reality.
Remember that washing your hands properly with soap and running water is a DIY vaccine (Do It Yourself vaccine).
AS ALWAYS LAUGH OFTEN, ENSURE HYGIENE, WALK AND PRAY EVERYDAY AND REMEMBER IT’S A PRICELESS GIFT TO KNOW YOUR NUMBERS (blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, BMI)
Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
Health Essentials Ltd/Mobissel/St. Andrews Clinic
*Dr. Essel is a medical doctor, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy, fitness nutrition and corrective exercise.
Thought for the week – “Keeping our surroundings clean, ensuring good personal hygiene and washing our hands properly and regularly with soap and water may get rid of up to 80 of the diarrhoeal and respiratory diseases we suffer from.”