July 25, 2024

World Health Day Stresses Food Safety

Today is World Health Day. The World Health Organization (WHO) is making the centerpiece of this year’s celebration food safety. New data on the harm caused by food poisoning stresses the global threat caused by contaminated food.

Globe StethoscopeWHO states that there is a need for coordinated, cross-border action across the entire food supply chain. WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said in a statement, “food production has been industrialized and its trade and distribution have been globalized. These changes introduce multiple new opportunities for food to be contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemicals.” Food that is not safe to eat can contain bacteria, viruses, parasites, and chemical substances. Unsafe food can cause more than 200 diseases.

WHO is releasing the first findings from its analysis of the global burden of food borne diseases. The full research will be released in October 2015. The analysis found that there were an estimated 582 million cases of 22 different food borne enteric diseases around the world in 2010. Those illnesses caused 351,000 deaths. The most common type of food poisoning was from Salmonella Typhi (52,000 deaths), E. coli (37,000 deaths), and norovirus (35,000 deaths.)

The African region had the highest disease burden for enteric food borne illness, followed by South East Asia. And more than 40% of the people suffering from these illnesses caused by contaminated food were children under the age of 5. WHO said, “food borne diseases impede socioeconomic development by straining health care systems and harming national economies, tourism and trade. Food supply chains now cross national borders.”

WHO states that efforts to prevent these illnesses can be strengthened. Governments need to pub robust food safety systems in place. Global and national level measures can be taken, including the joint WHO-FAO International Food Safety Authorities Network to ensure good communication during an outbreak.

The press release also states that the public must play a role in food safety. Consumers must understand safe food practices, and how to cook potentially hazardous foods such as raw chicken. WHO offers the Five Keys to Safer Food manual that all people should read to help increase their understanding of the problem and to keep food poisoning at bay.


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