How safety conscious are our youth when it comes to their food? Do they know where their food comes from? Or how hygienically their food was handled, transported, stored and cooked? The young need nourishing food which won’t make them sick. The World Health Organization is reaching out to the public especially the youth through their social media campaign – #safefood to increase awareness about foodborne illness and improve food safety, from farm to plate and everywhere in between.
In this unique campaign, WHO is asking viewers to post a photo of their plate on their Facebook account and explaining in a sentence how they ensured food safety? Participants are also asked to nominate 5 of their friends by tagging them and using #safefood. (Moreover information on the contest can be found at WHO SEARO .
The campaign has already gone viral with Facebook flooding with scores of pictures from across the globe ever since the World Health Organization dedicated this year’s World Health Day (April 7) theme on food safety. In a short time, safe food practices have assumed a ‘cool quotient’ amongst the youth and working professionals who are taking pride in showing off their dishes. Participants are following WHO’s ‘five keys’ to food safety which are tips to help consumers keep food safe in their kitchens. The five keys are: keep hands and food preparation surfaces clean, separate raw and cooked food, cook thoroughly, keep food stored at correct temperature, and use safe water and raw materials.
One participant, Priyanka Sharma posted a picture of her home cooked South Indian Dosa with Sambhar and chutney and declared proudly that her ‘food was cooked using safe water and raw materials, cooked thoroughly and served hot!’
Another participant, Sangeeta Jasmine from University of Delhi made her dinner comprising of steamed rice, carrot sambar, beetroot porrial and daal claiming ‘everything was healthy and cooked by her dear mom’.
Jyotsna Srivastava from New Delhi posted a picture of chole bhature announcing that she made the ‘meal using fresh ingredients, clean water, in hygienic conditions and served it hot.’
The participants went on to challenge five more friends to do the same by following the given instructions.
Unsafe food and water is linked to the deaths of over 2 million people annually – including 700 000 children in WHO’s South-East Asia Region. According to WHO, over 200 known diseases are transmitted through food. Foodborne illnesses are usually either infectious or toxic in nature. These illnesses may occur through the consumption of food or water contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances. Foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella, Escherichia coli, or Campylobacter can cause severe illnesses or even death. Chemical contamination can lead to acute poisoning or long-term diseases such as cancer. Examples of unsafe food include uncooked foods of animal origin, and fruits and vegetables contaminated with faeces and chemicals.
Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, World Health Organization, South-East Asia Region, said, “The saying that ‘we are what we eat’ is absolutely apt and sums up the importance of safe food in human health. Safe food is needed for everybody, from growing children and adolescents to pregnant women and older adults. Let us work together to make our food safe to contribute to better health of people, since safe food promotes healthy lives.”
Social media use has quickly become a popular online activity for internet users in India. With over 1.39 billion active users on Facebook, and more than 500 million users on Twitter, it has emerged as a potentially powerful medium for communication with adolescents and young adults around health choices.