FAO unveils tool to help farmers with safe food handling

Vegetables at a shelve at Naivas Nairobi West. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

A new toolbox designed to help those operating in the food sector adhere to international food hygiene standards has been launched.

Launched by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the tool offers a collection of standards, guidelines and codes of practice in line with the World Health Organisation standards that aim to protect consumer health and promote fair practices in food trade.

With 600 million people afflicted by foodborne illness every year, priority is being given to food safety especially where food scarcity is rampant.

Research has shown that there is a direct correlation between situations of food scarcity and increased threats to food safety. The toolbox translates the extensive set of guidelines and norms governing Good Hygiene Practices and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point into easily digestible information posted on the FAO website.

Its contents include guides to personal hygiene, such as how to educate external visitors entering a food production site, the correct procedure and frequency for hand washing, and suggestions for appropriate clothing.

The website has been designed to work well on handheld mobile devices, which in some developing countries are far more widespread than computers.

"This toolbox is an important point of reference for food safety globally. It provides not only the internationally agreed upon principles of food safety, but also provide a framework within which countries can negotiate and food businesses can communicate on food safety amongst themselves,"said Corinna Hawkes, FAO's director of food systems and food safety division.

The aim of the toolbox is to give all food business operators from the farm or further along the value chain, an instrument that enables them to better engage with local food safety authorities to produce, process and distribute safe food. This toolbox is available in three languages English, French and Spanish. The academia has expressed an interest in using it as a basis for creating courses on food safety.

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Food safety Food handling FAO