We Are What We Eat — EYES ON THE FUTUREThursday, July 22, 2021
Happy World Food Safety Day (WFSD)! But is it, though? Is it a happy World Food Safety Day? Yes, it's that time of the year; a time when concentrated focus is placed on food safety risk and mitigation strategies with an aim to reduce the burden of foodborne diseases across the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), food safety is not a one-person responsibility; it is a shared one. The responsibility is shared between governments, producers and consumers; that is, we all have a part to play. We each have an input in ensuring that food all along the food chain is safe, that at the time of consumption it will not result in health challenges.
World Food Safety Day, at the heart of it, is a proactive approach to risk reduction. This is about preventing, detecting, containing and managing any food safety risk. The saying “You are what you eat” plays right into this year's WFSD theme of “Safe Food Now for a Healthy Tomorrow”. Therefore, eat today with an eye on tomorrow. The WHO states that the theme emphasises production and consumption of safe food has immediate and long-term benefits for people, the planet and the economy. Meaning that a holistic view is being taken; this is very important as food safety is not in a silo and cannot be considered in isolation.
As a consumer, how have you played your part in support of food safety? Consumers must select food that is safe to eat, being mindful of perishable foods such as meats, and the importance of temperature control. For example, when shopping, meats must be purchased last and placed in chill/cold storage soon thereafter. It is important to read labels paying keen attention to information about expiry dates. The packages of food items must be checked for any damage, for example swelling, dents, tears or leaks. As a consumer, the following four basic food safety principles must be remembered and practised:
For producers, it is important that foods are labelled properly to provide adequate information to buyers for them to make the best decision. It is also important to ensure that product labels do not mislead consumers. Furthermore, at basic, that good manufacturing practices (GMPs) be implemented. GMPs help to ensure that food is produced in a controlled manner while meeting basic requirements. Under GMPs, considerations must be given to people (hygiene, training), premises (facility maintenance, pest control) and products utilising the most suitable processes to achieve the intended results. Without GMPs, producers will find themselves in violation since there will be no established standards and processes to which the food business is operating.
As WFSD is being celebrated, let us focus on the milestones. More and more the food safety message is getting out there. More and more people are becoming informed. More and more people are reducing cultural practices that are risky (eg touched meats). So is it a happy World Food Safety Day? Yes, it is! We will continue to use the WFSD platform and many others to push forward the agenda of food safety. WFSD: Safe food now for a healthy tomorrow.
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