Is your food safe? Food contamination root cause of more than 200 diseases



By Newsgram Staff Writer

The WHO will celebrate World Health Day on April 7 as a day dedicated to food safety this year. It will throw light on the global threats posed by unsafe foods, and the need for coordinated, cross-border action across the entire food supply chain.

Food production has been industrialized and its trade and distribution has become a commercial business altogether. These changes introduce multiple new opportunities for food to become contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemicals.

Unsafe food is the root cause of more than 200 diseases ranging from diarrhea to cancer. Examples of unsafe food include under-cooked foods of animal origin, fruits and vegetables contaminated with feces, and shellfish containing marine biotoxins. Unsafe food is also a threat to the economies. Germany’s 2011 E.coli outbreak reportedly caused a loss of $ 1.3 billion for farmers and industries and $ 236 million in emergency aid payments to 22 European Union Member States.

Some findings of food borne diseases are listed below-

• There were an estimated 582 million cases of 22 different food borne enteric diseases and 351 000 associated deaths;

• The enteric disease agents responsible for most deaths were Salmonella Typhi (52 000 deaths), enteropathogenic E. coli (37 000) and norovirus (35 000);

• The African region recorded the highest disease burden for enteric food borne disease, followed by South-East Asia

• Over 40% people suffering from diseases caused by contaminated food were children aged under 5 years.

Robust food safety steps should be taken not just at national but global level using international platforms, like the joint WHO-FAO International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN), to ensure effective and rapid communication during food safety emergencies. Governments of various countries should put in effort to safeguard against chemical or microbial contamination of food.

“It often takes a crisis for the collective consciousness on food safety to be stirred and any serious response to be taken,” says Dr Kazuaki Miyagishima, Director of WHO’s Department of Food Safety.