Food safety

The Five Keys to Safer Food Programme

Diseases that people get from eating contaminated food are an important cause of illness, disability and deaths around the world, as revealed by the first ever WHO Estimates of the Global Burden of Foodborne diseases published in December 2015. Foodborne diseases-especially those caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi-are preventable, and education in safe food handling is a key measure for prevention, including to contain antimicrobial resistance.

WHO built the Five Keys to Safer Food Programme to assist Member States in promoting safe food handling behaviors and educate all food handlers, including consumers, with tools easy to adopt and adapt. The Five Keys to Safer Food explain the basic principles that each individual should know all over the world to prevent foodborne diseases. Over 130 countries have reported using the Five Keys to Safer Food. As a result, billions of food handlers, including consumers, are empowered to prevent foodborne diseases, make safe and informed choices and have a voice to push for a safer food supply.

To ensure the same understanding in practice along the full chain WHO has developed additional Five Keys materials directed to rural people who grow fruits, vegetables and fish for their own use or for sale on local markets. WHO’s objective is to target those who usually do not have access to food safety education despite the important role they play in producing safe food for their community (e.g. rural women).

Overview in photos

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Key documents

Background information