Hygiene Keeps You Healthy

To mark the occasion of World Health Day, which is being organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on 7 April 2015, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is emphasising the significance of kitchen hygiene for consumers. "There is good and bad news where food safety is concerned," says BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. "The bad news is that foodborne infections are a health hazard in Germany too. The good news is that we can easily protect ourselves from them in most cases with the help of hygiene rules".

Foodborne infections are caused above all by animal foods, such as meat, fish, milk and eggs, which are eaten raw or are insufficiently heated prior to consumption, as well as contaminated vegetables and salads, which are usually not heated at all. To avoid infection, consumers should comply with these hygiene rules when storing and preparing foods.

Most pathogens are killed off by heating foods to at least 70°C for two minutes or more when cooking or warming. To prevent the transfer of germs from the hands, work surfaces and kitchen utensils, contact between raw and ready-to-eat foods must be avoided. Hands and kitchen utensils such as knives and chopping boards should therefore be washed thoroughly with hot water and dried with disposable paper towels immediately after making contact with raw foods of animal origin. The rules of hygiene should also be observed during the transport and storage of raw foods.

Poor hygiene when handling food is a major cause of foodborne disease outbreaks. Roughly 100,000 cases of foodborne disease are reported in Germany every year and experts estimate the number of unreported cases to be much higher. Illness can be severe, particularly among sensitive groups, such as small children, expectant mothers and elderly people.

World Health Day is celebrated every year on 7 April, the day the WHO was founded. This year, the motto for the day is "From farm to plate, make food safe".

The BfR has compiled tips for consumers on protection against foodborne infections in an information leaflet (available in German) and produced a video to go with it. More on the subject at:

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientific institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

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