Food safety contributes to food security, economic prosperity- UN

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Baskets of tomatoes on display for sale at a local food market in Lagos, South-West Nigeria.

As the first-ever UN World Food Safety Day is observed on Friday, the UN says there is the need for food safety as it contributes to food security, human health, economic prosperity and sustainable development.

The UN World Food Safety Day which will be marked annually on June 7, aims to ensure as well as strengthen efforts to ensure that the food we eat is safe.

The UN has designated two of its agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to lead efforts in promoting food safety around the world.

The theme for 2019 is: “Food Safety is Everyone’s Business’’.

“Food safety contributes to food security, human health, economic prosperity, agriculture, market access, tourism and sustainable development.

“Every year, nearly one in 10 people in the world fall ill and 420,000 die after eating food contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances.

“Unsafe food also hinders development in many low and middle-income economies, which lose around 95 billion dollars in productivity associated with illness, disability and premature death suffered by workers,’’ the WHO said in a statement on Friday.

According to the statement, the FAO and WHO are joining forces to assist countries to prevent, manage and respond to risks along the food supply chain.

“The agencies will be working with food producers and vendors, regulatory authorities and civil society stakeholders, whether the food is domestically produced or imported.

“It is important that everyone has access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food as safe food is critical to promoting health and ending hunger.

“Safe food allows for suitable intake of nutrients and contributes to a healthy life.

“Safe food production improves sustainability by enabling market access and productivity, which drives economic development and poverty alleviation, especially in rural areas,” it said.

“Investment in consumer food safety education has the potential to reduce food-borne disease and return savings of up to 10 dollars for each dollar invested.

“Activities around the world for World Food Safety Day aim to inspire action to help prevent, detect and manage food-borne health risks.

“The right actions along the food supply chain, from farmers to consumers, as well as good governance and regulations are essential to food safety.

“Also, improving hygiene practices in the food and agricultural sectors helps to reduce the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance along the food chain and in the environment.’’

José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General said: “Whether you are a farmer, farm supplier, food processor, transporter, marketer or consumer, food safety is your business.

“There is no food security without food safety.’’

Also, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said: “Unsafe food kills an estimated 420,000 people every year; these deaths are entirely preventable.

“World Food Safety Day is a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the dangers of unsafe food with governments, producers, handlers and consumers.

“From farm to plate, we all have a role to play in making food safe,’’ he said.