Thursday December 13, 2018

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

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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.

 

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Road Traffic Accidents Cause 1.35 Mn Deaths Each Year: WHO

WHO noted that 48 middle- and high-income countries that have implemented strong road traffic laws and other safety measures have made progress in reducing road deaths.

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Traffic Crashes, Road Traffic
Two bikes were involved in an accident with a bus that crashed and turned on its roof near the town of Franschhoek, South Africa, March 7, 2015. VOA

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for urgent action to put a brake on road traffic crashes that kill 1.35 million people every year, mostly in poor developing countries.

In Geneva, the U.N. agency launched its global status report on road safety 2018.

The report found road traffic injuries to be the leading killer of children and young people aged five to 29 years, with a death occurring every 24 seconds. The report said more than half of those killed are pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcycle riders and passengers.

Etienne Krug, head of the U.N. Agency’s Department on Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention, called these deaths a huge inequality issue.

Traffic Signals, Road Traffic
Traffic and congestion on roads is frequent in all cities of India. Wikimedia

“Low-income countries have one percent of the vehicles in the world and 13 percent of all the deaths; while high-income countries have 40 percent of all the vehicles,” Krug said. “So, that is 40 times more, but only seven percent of the deaths.That is half of the deaths with 40 times more vehicles.”

The report said death rates are highest in Africa and lowest in Europe. Some of the key risk factors include speeding, drinking and driving, and failure to use seat belts, motorcycle helmets and child restraints.

Krug said putting the right measures in place will save lives. These include the right legislation and enforcement, creating special lanes for cyclists and improving the quality of vehicles.

Road accidents in India
Road accidents in India. Pixabay

“It is not acceptable that vehicles are being sold in developing countries that look the same as the vehicles that we see here in Switzerland or the U.S. or anywhere else, but that are not,” Krug told VOA. “Because to make them cheaper, they have been stripped of all of their safety features, such as air bags or electronic stability control, etc.”

WHO noted that 48 middle- and high-income countries that have implemented strong road traffic laws and other safety measures have made progress in reducing road deaths.

Also Read: HIV Epidemic Spreading Rapidly in Pakistan: WHO

However, it said no such progress has been made in low-income countries where safety measures are lacking. (VOA)