FAO launches campaign to prevent foodborne diseases

With simple messages, it tries to reach consumers directly so that they themselves take care of their health.

Washing hands before eating or handling objects and using only potable or treated water for food preparation are part of basic and simple care that contributes to a healthy diet. These and other recommendations form the “Eat Healthy” campaign, launched by the Agricultural Food Health and Safety Group of the FAO Regional Office, which aims to ensure food safety and prevent food-borne diseases, the newsletter reported.

An estimated 1,800,000 people die each year from diarrhea caused by consuming contaminated food and water. According to the FAO/WHO Regional Conference on Food Security for the Americas and the Caribbean (Costa Rica, 2005), about 57,000 people died in 2004 in the region due to this type of disease.

Through a series of key messages delivered through different visual media, the campaign aims to reach consumers directly so that they themselves become the main guardians of their health, learning practical techniques to guarantee food safety.

“Access to healthy, nutritious and safe food is an essential right of people, linked to their right to food and life. All consumers have the right to expect and demand healthy, quality food, that’s what our campaign focuses on,” said FAO’s Senior Food Safety and Quality Officer, Maya Piñeiro.

The campaign materials are available online in Spanish, English and French, and will be distributed in all countries of the region.

The campaign provides information and good practices in aspects such as storage, handling and preparation of food at home, since a mistake made by the consumer can undo the care taken in previous stages of the food chain.

By providing appropriate and accurate information on food hygiene, the campaign teaches how to use food properly, and avoid contamination and the growth of food-borne pathogens through proper storage and preparation.

Posters, T-shirts and other graphic materials also incorporate the concept of nutrition, emphasizing the importance of a balanced, healthy and varied diet. In addition to highlighting the role of care at home, consumers will also learn to be more careful when buying food, putting pressure to achieve a supply of safe and quality food, strengthening care throughout the food chain through their actions.

The campaign, which will be disseminated in Spanish, English and French, will present simple measures aimed at governments, industry, consumer organisations, handlers and the general public, to be applied in homes as well as in food establishments.

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