WHO's 5 keys to food safety at Shanghai Expo exhibition

News release

SHANGHAI, China – From mad cow disease to salmonella in eggs and melamine in milk, foodborne diseases in recent years have focused the world's attention on food safety. A new exhibition by the World Health Organization (WHO) seeks to inform and educate the public on how they can better protect themselves by taking simple measures in their own kitchen.

WHO's "Five Keys to Safer Food" exhibition is running from 11-15 October at the UN Pavilion of the World Expo in Shanghai. Based on the premise that knowledge is prevention, it is part of a global campaign to train food handlers and raise consumer awareness on how to prevent foodborne diseases.

"Sometimes very simple messages and measures can have a big impact on health protection," said WHO's Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan. "These Five Keys to Safer Food have already contributed to the prevention of foodborne illness and deserve to be communicated more widely."

At a glance, the five recommendations to ensure safer food are:

  • Keep clean
  • Separate raw and cooked food
  • Cook thoroughly
  • Keep food at safe temperatures
  • Use safe water and raw materials

The exhibition shows concrete steps to minimize contamination by dangerous microorganisms during food preparation and storage. This is especially relevant in cities where people are more exposed to foodborne diseases as they eat out more often – in the street, in canteens or restaurants. It also applies when people bring home-cooked food to work.

Globally, 95 countries are using the Five Keys in education projects. The Five Keys poster has been translated into 66 languages as countries adapt the messages for local use. These materials have also been used in mass gathering events such as the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the World Cup in Africa in June 2010. It is also being used at the Shanghai Expo, as part of the Guide for Travellers pamphlet popular among visitors.

In China, the Five Keys campaign has been underway since 2004. In order to reach out to all segments of the 1.3 billion population, WHO has been working with the National Centre for Health Inspection under the Ministry of Health to translate the materials already available in Mandarin into seven languages spoken by ethnic minorities in Tibet (Tibetan), Yunnan (Bai, Miao, Naxi, Yi), Xinjiang (Weiwuer or Uygur) and Inner Mongolia (Mongolian). They will be widely disseminated in the coming months in those areas' schools, restaurants, health care centres and factory canteens, among other locations.

For more information on food safety, please see www.who.int

Media contact:

Vivian Tan
Communications Officer
WHO China
Tel: +86 139 1120 5167
Email: tanv@wpro.who.int
Website: www.wpro.who.int/china/