WHO: NEARLY 2 MILLION PEOPLE DIE EACH YEAR OF DIARRHEA
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1.8 million or nearly 2 million people die each year of diarrheal diseases attributed to the consumption of contaminated food or water.
Majority of cases, about 88%, is caused by unsafe water supply, inadequate sanitation and improper hygiene, WHO added.
Although children below five years of age are most affected by the disease, experts warned adults not to be wary as well. Improper kitchen sanitation, experts said, can increase chances of contracting the disease.
Prior to food handling, experts suggest hand washing to remove unwanted microorganisms and to avoid contamination of food.
Hand washing at critical times can reduce diarrhea cases up to 35%, WHO said. It is also advisable to wash hands for at least 20 seconds. When washing is not possible, hand sanitizers may also help.
According to experts, among the bacteria that may cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal diseases include Salmonella, E.coli, and Staphylococcus aureus, among others.
As these bacteria are known to contaminate food especially raw meat and vegetables, experts advise thorough washing and cooking prior to serving.
Further, experts said, proper food storage can minimize diarrhea cases. As much as possible, unused ingredients or leftovers should be refrigerated, as cold temperature prevents bacteria from multiplying.
Utensils can also be contaminated by bacteria or viruses, experts added, hence, dining ware must also be thoroughly washed and dried after every use.
Kitchen cleaners such as sponges can also be potential bacteria carriers. As these cleaners are often reused on several plates and utensils, if not frequently washed, bacteria in the sponge can cross contaminate to utensils. Utensils not thoroughly cleaned can be contaminated by microorganisms, increasing the danger of transferring unwanted germs to food.
“Basta merong tubig, pwedeng mag grow ang mga microorganisms (Microoganisms can possibly grow anywhere as long as there is a water source),” said microbiologist Dr. Pie Vital.
As for water, experts said, as much as possible, obtain drinking water from safe water sources.
Lastly, experts said maintaining overall cleanliness in the kitchen can help prevent diseases. Hygiene interventions through education and promotion of hand washing can lead to reduction of diarrheal cases as much as 45%, WHO said.