Part 2: Foodborne Illness Prevention

Article collated by Athini Amarasiri.

Prevention of Foodborne Illnesses

Foodborne illnesses are a global public health concern.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 600 million – almost 1 in 10 people in the world – fall ill after eating contaminated food and 420 000 die every year.   WHO is closely working towards prevention of foodborne illnesses by developing and implementing various strategies. In Australia, the Australia’s Foodborne Illness Reduction Strategy (2018-2021+) is the main approach regarding this.


A Global Approach

Good hygienic practices and good manufacturing practices play a vital role in preventing foodborne illnesses.   WHO has published the Five keys to safer food, which provide a practical guidance to consumers about how to handle and prepare food at home, or when selling at restaurants or at local markets.  These are:

  • Key 1: Keep clean
  • Key 2: Separate raw and cooked food
  • Key 3: Cook food thoroughly
  • Key 4: Keep food at safe temperatures
  • Key 5: Use safe water and raw materials





To prevent contamination when growing fruits and vegetables WHO has developed a guidance Five  Keys to Growing Safer Fruits and Vegetables:

  • Key 1: Practice good personal hygiene
  • Key 2: Use safe water for irrigation
  • Key 3: Protect field from faecal contamination by animals including birds
  • Key 4: Use treated manure and treated faecal waste
  • Key 5: Keep harvest equipment, containers, and storage facilities clean and dry


The following global changes have been identified as emerging food safety threats:

  • Globalised food trade, increased travel and migration increase the long-distance pathogen transmission
  • Changes in agriculture and food industry such as handling of infected domestic and wild animals during food production cause emerging foodborne illnesses
  • Changes in human population such as increasing the number of vulnerable, aging population
  • Changed in lifestyles such as frequent consumption of food prepared outside the home in urban areas
  • Antimicrobial resistance due to frequent usage of antibiotics by the population
  • Climate changes cause the emergence of novel food-borne pathogens, increasing the prevalence and re-emergence


Foodborne illnesses control and prevention is based on different approaches:

  • Whole-food chain approach
  • Inter-sectoral and inter-disciplinary collaboration
  • International collaboration
  • Good surveillance systems
  • Information-sharing
  • Food safety risk communication


Care must be taken to share consistent, accurate and up-to date information on prevention of foodborne illnesses.  Among the abovementioned approaches, food safety risk communication plays the most important role in foodborne illnesses prevention.


To prevent spread of foodborne illnesses, food safety emergencies and to limit food safety threats, WHO seeks to address stakeholders at different levels of the food chain by educating:

  • Consumers
  • Food handlers
  • Health professionals
  • School system (school children and school staff)
  • Mass gatherings (e.g. promoting food safetyduring the Olympics)
  • Tourism sector
  • Health care centres
  • Food markets


Consumer knowledge and practice on proper food handling and their ability to make safe choices about the food they consume is critically important in prevention of foodborne illnesses.  This education includes ensuring consumers:

  • Clean and sanitise kitchen surfaces
  • Avoid cross-contamination between raw and ready-to-eat foods
  • Wash hands before preparing or eating food
  • Prepare, handle, and store foods correctly
  • Be careful about the food choices -check use-by dates and do not buy damaged packages
  • Be a smart shopper – buy refrigerated and frozen foods last and use a cooler pack so they remain at a reasonable temperature.


Foodborne Illness Prevention in Australia

Considering the increasing number of cases due to foodborne diseases and the socioeconomical impact of the country, FSANZ with food regulation bodies and health departments of all states are working together to prevent foodborne illnesses.


Australia’s Foodborne Illness Reduction Strategy addresses preventing the foodborne illnesses related to Campylobacter and Salmonella.   The aim is to reduce the human cases of campylobacteriosis and salmonellosis per capita by 2021.   To achieve this, the national strategy focuses on:

  • Taking actions at all points along the food supply chain
  • Targeting the most relevant parts of the food supply chain (poultry, egg, horticulture- leafy greens, sprouts, melons, berries), food service and consumers
  • Developing information and resources for food businesses and leading national activities on food safety culture by FSANZ
  • Implementing fresh produce food safety management targeting high risk horticultural processing businesses
  • Review the food standards for poultry and eggs in the Food Standards Code to modernise and enhance its effectiveness


Consumers play a vital role in implementing the national strategy to reduce foodborne illness.   Their knowledge and practices are critically important to prevent foodborne illnesses.


Below are some consumer guides to reduce foodborne illnesses in Australia focusing on safe handling of eggs and poultry.


Safe Handling of Eggs

  • Do not wash eggs (washing eggs allows bacteria to go inside the eggs through the shell)
  • Store eggs and egg products under refrigeration (This is to minimise the growth of salmonella)
  • Never leave foods that contain raw egg out of the fridge for any longer than four hours in total
  • Store eggs in the original carton in the fridge (To know the use- by date)
  • Do not use eggs that are out of date
  • Pack eggs in an insulated cooler with ice, frozen blocks, or a frozen juice box to keep them cold when transporting, do not put the insulated cooler in the car boot, carry it inside an air-conditioned vehicle
  • Open the carton and check the eggs look clean and are not cracked before purchasing
  • Only make food that contains raw egg products on the day you plan to eat it
  • Avoid cross contamination by discarding cartons that contain cracked eggs
  • Wash hands before and after handling eggs
  • Clean and sanitise utensils, equipment, and other food contact surfaces such as benches appropriately handling eggs and egg products
  • Do not use the eggshell to separate the egg white and the yolk, use a clean egg separator instead


Safe Handling of Poultry

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with warm soapy water before and after handling raw poultry
  • Wash all utensils, containers, cutting boards and kitchen surfaces thoroughly with hot soapy water after each use
  • Use separate cloths for drying hands and dishes.  Wash your sponge thoroughly after each use and replace it regularly
  • Keep raw poultry and their juices away from cooked or ready-to-eat foods and fresh produce.
  • Store raw poultry in original packaging or placed in a sealed container at the bottom of the fridge to prevent juices dripping onto other food
  • Store raw poultry in a refrigerator at a temperature of 5°C or below
  • Cook poultry to make sure harmful bacteria are killed
  • Use a fork or skewer to pierce the thickest part of the meat and check that the juices run clear, there should be no pink meat or use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the thickest part of the meat reaches at least 75°C
  • Do not wash raw chicken as it will not remove or kill Campylobacter, but it will spread the bacteria around the kitchen.  (The spray from washing chicken can spread up to 80cm from the sink, contaminating nearby surfaces, utensil, or food








Download me: Foodborne Illness Part -2 Prevention



Please follow and like us:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *