By Blessing Bature, Abuja
Health Minister, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has said that every year, nearly one in every ten people in the world, an estimated 600 million people fall ill and 420,000 others die after eating food contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances such as heavy metals.
Ehanire disclosed this during the celebration to mark 2022 World Food Safety Day that over 200 diseases are caused by eating contaminated food and the magnitude of public health burden due to food borne diseases is comparable to that of malaria or HIV/AIDS.
He stated Food, if it’s not safe, is not Food. Food is a health product and the first component of basic health care delivery. The slogan for World Food Safety Day is “Food Safety is Every One’s Business and is a reminder that we all play a role in keeping food safe. This calls for prioritization of food safety throughout the d supply chain, from farm to table.”
According to him, “children under the age of five are at higher risk of malnutrition and mortality due to unsafe food and they carry 40% of food borne disease burden. Unsafe food causes one in six deaths from diarrhea, a major killer in this age group. World Food Safety Day is a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the dangers of unsafe food with governments, producers, handlers and consumers having a role to play in making food safe.”
The Minister noted that unsafe food hinted that World Food Safety Day is a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the dangers of unsafe food with governments, producers, handlers and consumers having a role to play in making food safe.
“Unsafe food hinders development especially on low- and middle-income economies, which lose around US$ 95 billion in productivity associated with illness, disability, and premature death suffered by workers (farmers, processors, handlers and marketers and consumers).
“This is standing in accord with World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the National Food Safety Management Committee (NFSMC) and the global Food Safety Community with the aim to draw attention and inspire action that prevents, detect and manage food borne risks that guarantee safer food for better health.
“In line with this year’s theme “Safer food, better health” emphasizes that all are consumers and food safety counts first for better health. Safe food is essential to human health and well-being. Only when food is safe can we fully benefit from its nutritional value and from the mental and social benefits of sharing a safe meal.
“Safe food is one of the most critical guarantors for good health. Unsafe foods are the cause of many diseases and contribute to other poor health conditions, such as impaired growth and development.
“The good news is that most food borne diseases are preventable. Our behaviour, the way we build food systems and how we organize food supply chains can prevent infectious and toxic hazards, microbial pathogens (bacteria, viruses and parasites), chemical residues, biotoxins and other noxious or dangerous substances from getting into our plates. We need to transform food systems to deliver better health, and we need to do so in a sustainable manner.
“Food systems policy-makers, practitioners and investors should reorient their activities to increase the sustainable production and consumption of safe foods in order to improve health outcomes, to make safe and healthy diets”, he stated.