A food technician inspects a laboratory sample.

5 important food safety facts you should know

Most of us will experience a foodborne disease at some point in our lives, and avoiding becoming a statistic is more complex than you might think. These five food safety facts, inspired by the World Health Organisation, sheds some light on why that is.

Understanding the scope of global food protection

Each year 1 in 10 people fall ill due to consuming contaminated food. Roughly 420,000 of these illnesses are fatal. From farm to plate, we need to keep our food safe. Here’s what you should know.


Fact 1. Food safety is an increasingly complex problem

Globalisation has made our food chains longer, complicating food recalls and outbreak investigations in emergencies.


Fact 2. Foodborne illnesses can be long-term and cumulative

Food contaminated with heavy metals or toxins can cause serious long-term health problems, including cancer and neurological disorders.


Fact 3. Foodborne illnesses have economic consequences

Besides public health issues, food contamination undermines a country’s economic development by disrupting the export and tourism markets, along with the livelihoods of food handlers.


Fact 4. Solutions can sometimes turn into problems

Overuse and misuse of antimicrobials in agriculture and animal husbandry is a leading factor in the reduced effectiveness of drugs designed to cure or prevent infections.


Fact 5. Food safety is everyone’s business

Everyone along the chain—from producers to consumers—has a role to play in making sure food stays safe.


To learn more about food safety and disease prevention, visit the WHO’s fact file on food safety.