A non-profit organization has called for more focus on food hygiene in schools.
The Reckitt Institute for Global Health was established in 2020 to build a body of research that can contribute to decision-making to improve public health. It is funded by a $25 million multi-year grant from Reckitt, a consumer health and hygiene company.
In the past, food hygiene lessons were common in schools as part of a class called housekeeping. The link between food preparation, safety and health will be explained by shared information on how to protect food from contamination, and store it in a way that keeps bacteria at bay and destroys any organisms that may be problematic.
However, in recent years, this subject has shrunk or changed to an elective fortnightly class in food technology. According to the institute, which raised the issue on World Food Safety Day, making it non-compulsory means that there are young people leaving school without knowing how to protect themselves and others from harmful bacteria in the kitchen.
Building a knowledge base
Food hygiene is often self-taught or knowledge is imparted within the family. While some restaurants, hotels, and bars offer basic training, formal education is lacking.
Simon Sinclair, executive director of the Reckitt Institute for Global Health, said the situation was “quite amazing” given how important food hygiene is to health and the economy.
“Knowledge of food preparation standards that include hand washing and sterilization, when and how food can be reheated and how to store it, can serve as an important weapon against disease and infection,” he said.
Supporting research in hygiene and food safety and its application in science and health curricula in schools can protect the food and beverage industry while protecting people’s health and well-being.
The more people who understand and know how to implement improved food hygiene measures, the less likely they are to get sick, lose work days and disrupt the sector, according to the institute.
“Getting access to more information about where food and hygiene intersect, the most impactful practices people can adopt when preparing and cooking food and how to implement them more broadly, will strengthen the food and beverage industry as well as the health and science sector,” Sinclair said.
The union wants to work
Meanwhile, the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) said it was time to clearly identify the main culprits responsible for the consequences of food production that leads to illness and disease.
The group said that comments aimed at raising public awareness of the need for more care in hygiene rules, and in food storage and handling are misleading if strict measures are not taken to counter the use of pesticides and combat intensive livestock farming.
She added that there are reports from countries in the southern hemisphere of the use of banned chemicals by the same international agencies that celebrate World Food Safety Day.
An example was given from Thailand, where traces of hazardous pesticides banned on the market were found in the samples analyzed. Consuming contaminated fruits and vegetables can have a serious impact on children’s health.
The WFTU said it stands with workers and farmers around the world and has strongly denounced the agro-industrial system primarily responsible for disease and pollution. The group called for banning all products that harm the health of employees and consumers, and demanded that the rights of workers and farmers be respected.
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)