The WHO five keys to safer food: A tool for food safety health promotion
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AbstractFoodborne diseases continue to be significant causes of morbidity and mortality within the African Region. Many cases of foodborne disease occur due to basic errors in food preparation or handling either in food service establishments or at home. Educating food handlers, including consumers, therefore, can significantly reduce the chances of contracting food-borne illnesses and the effects of outbreaks, as well as improve public health. Food safety education programmes need to particularly target certain segments of the population who, either directly have a role in food preparation and/or have increased vulnerability to foodborne diseases. In response to the increasing need to educate food handlers, including consumers about their responsibilities for assuring the safety of food, the World Health Organization (WHO) initiated a health promotion campaign around five simple rules, "the five keys to safer food" to help ensure food safety during food handling and preparation. The core messages of the WHO five keys to safer food are: keep clean; separate raw and cooked; cook thoroughly; keep food at safe temperatures; and use safe water and raw materials. These messages have been adapted to different target audiences and settings such as healthy food markets; emergency situations such as prevention of outbreaks; food safety for travellers; preparation of mass gathering events; streetvended foods; training of women; and growing of safer fruits and vegetables. Educational projects targeting different types of food handlers, high-risk groups andsettings are being implemented in several countries in the African Region. This article discusses how the WHO five keys to safer food have been used as a tool for food safety education. Experiences of selected countries in the African Region in the promotion of the WHO five keys to safer food in different settings are presented. It further discusses opportunities and future perspectives in the promotion of the WHO five keys to safer food in the African Region.