12 Interesting Food Safety Facts and Statistics

Food safety mistakes are dangerous, regardless of whether it’s in a commercial restaurant, fast food environment, or at home. How we store and protect our food is always a priority. Unintentionally, you can make yourself or someone else very sick with potentially lasting consequences by not prioritizing food safety. Here are some food safety facts highlighting this:

1. There are more than 200 diseases.

There are more than 200 diseases known to be spread through food. Due to bad food safety practices and from disease-containing foods, approximately 10 percent of the world’s population falls ill every year. Children under the age of five are at particular risk for getting ill from these diseases.

2. There are 420,000 deaths related to food safety every year.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 420,000 people worldwide die every year from diseased foods. This is a startling food safety fact that almost half a million people die every year. The vast majority of these deaths are preventable through appropriate food preparation and food storage. Bad food safety results in foodborne diseases continuing to be spread.

3. Long-term health problems originate if food safety isn’t practiced..

The most common foodborne diseases can lead to stomach pains, diarrhea, and vomiting. Although these typically subside within days, sometimes they do not and prolonged exposure to foodborne disease can lead to long-term complications. Any food contaminated with heavy metals or toxins has the potential to lead to cancer and neurological conditions.

4. There are acids and hydrocarbons on the BBQ

Cooking meat at higher temperatures, such as on a BBQ, produces heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These are carcinogenic chemical compounds. For meat eaters, unfortunately, any sort of cooking with dry heat, grilling, broiling, roasting, searing, or frying also increases the production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) which are toxic and which are known to play a role in the development of diseases like diabetes. There are also links between barbecued meats and cancers in the prostate, colon, and pancreas. If/when possible, choose an alternative to the BBQ and switch out those red meats for something else.

5. Food safety impacts the socially vulnerable the most.

The most vulnerable are oftentimes those most affected by poor food safety. Those living in poverty or with fragile health have to contend with serious illness and possibly death related to bad food safety practices. Infants, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems are at risk.

6. Contamination is a big part of food safety.

Food safety is admittedly a challenge as there are many opportunities along the food supply chain for product to become contaminated. In production, slaughtering, harvesting, processing, storage, transportation, distribution, and cooking, for food to be fully protected it requires every stakeholder to maintain a commitment to safe food practices. Always make sure that all food packages are properly sealed and tested for package integrity.

7. Raw foods should be stored separately.

Raw foods should be stored separately from that which is ready-to-eat. Otherwise, the risk of bacterial cross-contamination increases significantly. Raw meat harbors a ton of bacteria and requires a sealed container for storage. In storage, to avoid it dripping on other foods, raw meat should be at the bottom of the fridge.

8. Produce washing should always occur.

Always wash your fruits and vegetables prior to eating them as, regardless of how fresh and organic they may appear to be, you can still get food poisoning from them. Bacteria found in dirt can cling to the surface of these rather easily. To properly wash your produce, rub them under running water. For firmer produce like melons or cucumbers, you may have to scrub with a produce brush. Always remember to dry afterwards. Unless your fruits and veggies have been marked as ‘pre-washed’ or ‘ready to eat’, the process of will help remove bacteria.

9. Wash your hands before and after handling food.

Before and after handling food, be sure to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. The hands can become bacteria-carrying weapons and spread infectious diseases during and after handling food. According to the CDC, hand-washing with soap can reduce diarrhea in children by 30 percent and respiratory infections like pneumonia in children by 20 percent.

10. Use fresh oil for cooking.

You may be tempted to continue reusing your oil again and again however cooking oils at their boiling point will yield free radicals, facilitating oxidative stress and promoting cellular and molecular damage. Free radicals can damage organs like the colon and liver as well as impact glucose levels and cholesterol levels.

11. Cook meats thoroughly.

Bacteria is killed by heat. Ideally, you want to ensure the meat reaches the correct internal temperature before removing it from heat. A digital thermometer should be used to confirm your meat is cooked. Appearance and color is not indicative meat is cooked or that the bacteria’s been killed off. After every use, clean your digital thermometer in warm, soapy water. Especially in a restaurant, this will avoid cross-contamination.

12. Room temperature affects food safety.

Do not leave any food out longer than 1 hour at room temperature. Any perishables should be kept cold at a temperature at or below 4 degrees Celsius until you’re ready to eat it. Any marinated meats should also be stored in a refrigerator and not on the counter. The danger temperature too avoid is between 4 degrees and 60 degrees Celsius. In this, harmful bacteria grows in as little as two hours contaminating your food.

Ronald Ryan

I'm a self-proclaimed science geek and all-around nerd. Useless fun trivia seems to be my forte. If you ever need to hear a good dad joke, I'm your guy!

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