WHO data indicate that only a small number of factors related to food handling are responsible for a large proportion of foodborne disease episodes everywhere. Common errors include:
- preparation of food several hours prior to consumption, combined with its storage at temperatures which favour growth of pathogenic bacteria and/or formation of toxins;
- insufficient cooking or reheating of food to reduce or eliminate pathogens;
- cross contamination; and
- people with poor personal hygiene handling the food.
The Ten Golden Rules respond to these errors, offering advice that can reduce the risk that foodborne pathogens will be able to contaminate, to survive or to multiply.
Despite the universality of these causes, the plurality of cultural settings means that the rules should be seen as a model for the development of culture-specific educational remedies.
Users are therefore encouraged to adapt these rules to bring home messages that are specific to food preparation habits in a given cultural setting. Their power to change habitual practices will be all the greater.
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The World Health Organization regards illness due to contaminated food as one of the most widespread health problems in the contemporary world. For infants, immunocompromised people, pregnant women and the elderly, the consequences can be fatal. Protect your family by following these basic rules. They will reduce the risk of foodborne disease significantly.