Food safety

Prevention of foodborne disease: Five keys to safer food

Last reviewed/updated
23 October 2012

Dr Margaret Chan

"Sometimes very simple messages and measures can have a big impact on health protection. These Five Keys to Safer Food have already contributed to the prevention of foodborne illness and deserve to be communicated more widely."

Margaret Chan, Director-General

Every year, millions of people become ill and thousands die as a result of eating unsafe food . Food can become contaminated at any point before its consumption, including during preparation and there is a lack of awareness all over the world that food can make an individual sick if not properly handled, prepared and stored. Such ignorance leads to a large proportion of foodborne diseases which could be prevented.

The WHO Five keys to safer food explain the basic principles that each individual should know all over the world to prevent foodborne diseases. Over 100 countries have reported using the Five Keys to Safer Food to build educational programmes and the poster is available in 85 languages. As a result, thousands of food handlers, including consumers understood the importance of adopting safe food handling behaviors to help prevent the spread of foodborne diseases.

The five keys to safer food

Five keys

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

Brochure on the five keys
INFOSAN Information Note 05/2006: Five Keys to Safer Food

For more information about the WHO requirements to reproduce or translate the poster, to share your experiences, for potential collaborations or any additional information, please contact directly Françoise Fontannaz at For regional food safety contacts please go to our contact us page.

The Five Keys materials, including the Train the Trainer course, should not be used for any commercial or income-generating purpose. No element of the Five Keys materials may be used to promote any specific individual, entity or product, in any manner whatsoever.