Food poisoning (foodborne illness) remains one of the common public health problems in Africa and other parts of the world. In 2019, Nigeria’s Ministry of Science and Technology said at least 200,000 Nigerians die annually from food poisoning, and about 90,000 cases of food-borne diseases were recorded in Nigeria yearly.
Food poisoning happens when we eat food – in particular raw food that has been contaminated usually by bacteria or a virus such as Norovirus, Campylobacter, Salmonella, or E. coli. Raw foods include meat, poultry, eggs, fish and seafood.
In 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO), said an estimated 600 million people in the world (almost 1 in 10 people in the world) fall ill after eating contaminated food and 420,000 die every year, resulting in the loss of 33 million healthy life years.
Children under age 5 carry 40% of the foodborne disease burden, with 125,000 deaths every year, according to WHO.
For these reasons, there is a need to take extra care when handling or preparing food to protect you and your family from poisoning. When handling food, bear in mind the important 4 Cs of food hygiene. Cross-contamination, cleaning, cooking, and chilling.
To reduce your risk of food poisoning at home and keep your family safe, here are the 4 Cs you can follow:
Practice good hand hygiene. Remember to wash your hands regularly with Dettol soap and water.
Clean and disinfect food preparation surfaces: After preparing food (especially raw meat, fish, or eggs), it is important to use a disinfectant spray or wipe on any kitchen surfaces that you’ve used.
2. Cook food thoroughly
Cook meat thoroughly and ensure it’s ready to eat before serving. Ensure reheated food is hot throughout and avoid reheating it more than once. Food temperature is an important factor as temperature abuse can allow for microbes to produce toxins and cause infections such as S. aureus and B. cereus.
3. Cool, cover, and refrigerate cooked food within one hour
Separate large portions into smaller containers, if needed, to speed up cooling. Follow packaging guidelines for refrigerating fresh food and consume (or dispose of) food within its “use by” date.
4. Avoid Cross-Contamination
Remember to wash your hands with Dettol soap before preparing food and directly after handling raw ingredients. You should also prepare raw meat and ready-to-eat food separately – always use different utensils and chopping boards.
Keeping your home hygienic is a great step to reduce your chances of contracting food poisoning.