Wednesday, April 29, 2015

World Health Day: How safe is your food?

New data on the harm caused by food-borne illnesses underscore the global threats posed by unsafe foods, and the need for coordinated, cross-border action across the entire food supply chain, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

KEY FACTS
       Access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food is key to sustaining life and promoting good health
       Unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances causes more than 200 diseases – ranging from diarrhoea to cancers
       Food safety, nutrition and food security are inextricably linked. Unsafe food creates a vicious cycle of disease and malnutrition, particularly affecting infants, young children, elderly and the sick
       Food-borne diseases impede socioeconomic development by straining healthcare systems and harming national economies, tourism and trade
       Food supply chains now cross multiple national borders. Good collaboration between governments, producers and consumers helps ensure food safety.
Unsafe food is known to be involved in more than 200 different diseases — from communicable diseases such as cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases, to a range of noncommunicable diseases, including various forms of cancer,” said Dr Ala Alwan, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean. Examples of unsafe food include under-cooked foods of animal origin, fruits and vegetables contaminated with faeces, and shellfish containing marine biotoxins.
WHO also issued the first findings from what is a broader ongoing analysis of the global burden of food-borne diseases. The full results of this research, being undertaken by WHO’s Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group (FERG), are expected to be released in October 2015.
Despite the fact that governments have committed themselves to establish, operate and maintain well-functioning food safety systems, in some countries, food safety systems are still fragmented, under-funded and under-staffed. In addition, food safety authorities are often restricted in their powers and find themselves struggling to take appropriate public health action because of old and outdated legislation,” ,” he said.

Of the 22 Member States of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, only five have reported that they meet completely the core capacity requirements of the International Health Regulations with regard to food safety. Overall, the countries of the region report an average of only 75 per cent fulfillment of the capacity to deal with food safety events of international concern.”