Food Safety: WHO tasks stakeholders

Amaka E. Nliam

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has tasked different governmental departments, agencies and stakeholders with #FoodSafety ahead of #WorldFoodSafetyDay.

Food contamination has far reaching effects beyond direct public health consequences – It undermines food exports, tourism, livelihoods of food handlers and economic development both in developed and developing countries.

The food supply is complex and involves a range of different stages including: On-Farm Production, Slaughtering or Harvesting, Processing Storage, Transport and Distribution before the food reaches the consumers, making food contamination sometimes inevitable.

Globalization of food production and trade is making the food chain longer and complicates foodborne disease outbreak investigation and product recall in case of emergency.

According to the WHO, 1 in 10 people fall ill every year from eating contaminated food and 420,000 die each year as a result, with children under-5 being at particularly higher risk. 125,000 young children die from foodborne disease every year, but the consequences of foodborne disease are usually more severe and may be fatal for infants, pregnant women, the sick and the elderly.

Thus, to improve #FoodSafety, the WHO is calling on various stakeholders concerned:

The most common symptoms of foodborne disease are stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhoea. Food contaminated with heavy metals or with naturally occurring toxins can also cause long-term health problems, including cancer and neurological disorders.

Achieving #FoodSafety requires expertise from various disciplines: toxicology, microbiology, parasitology, nutrition, health economics and veterinary medicine. Local communities, women’s groups and school education also play an important role. #FoodSafety

Amaka E. Nliam