Ever wondered if the delicious food you had just cooked could do you harm? Probably not. Most of us believe that it is only un-hygienically cooked food we eat outside that causes us to fall sick. But in reality our home cooked food also can make us fall seriously ill.

According to WHO, millions of people fall ill every year and many die as a result of eating unsafe food. Diarrhoeal diseases alone kill an estimated 1.5 million children annually, and most of these illnesses are attributed to contaminated food or drinking water. Diseases like Anthrax, Tuberculosis, Measles, Hookworm, etc. often occur due to contaminated food. In fact there are more than 200 diseases caused by unsafe food. The most vulnerable to such diseases are children, pregnant women, old and sick people.

Food can be contaminated because of pollution, contaminants in soil and water, chemicals used as fertilizers during growing and harvesting, not using safety measures during transportation and storing, using too many chemicals during processing or even while  not preparing at the right temperature and using unclean water during cooking process.

Going by this year’s World Health Day’s theme of “safe food”, let us all adopt a farm-to-table approach and try to minimize the risk of food contamination. While government authority like Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) should take rigorous step to keep a check on food quality, at the same time every individual right from a farmer to the end consumer should be made aware of food safety and its effect on health. Awareness is a key to overcome the problems of food related health issues. Hence, besides strict regulation on food safety by government authority, there is an urgent demand to make people aware the consequences of food contamination and its hazardous effect on health.

Also based on WHO key principles, we can take the following preventive measures at home to retain safe food:

  • Maintain food hygiene by keeping utensils, place of cooking and raw vegetables clean so that no bacteria is spread.
  • Raw food items like meat, poultry, fish and eggs, etc. should be kept separately from cooked food.
  • Food should be cooked at the right temperature for the appropriate length of time to kill food poisoning causing pathogens. It is always advisable to use thermostat.
  • Bacteria multiplies easily on perishable foods unless it is refrigerated.

Right to health states that all children and adults have the right to avail, access and accept quality health care. This can only be realized fully if the food sources forming the basic pillar of health is not only accessible but of acceptable standards as well. It is now time for us to go beyond the repair approach and focus more on prevention.

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