‘2 M people suffer from diseases caused by unsafe food’
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - April 4, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Some two million people suffer from various diseases annually due to unsanitary food, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday.

In line with the celebration of World Health Day on April 7, the WHO in Western Pacific has urged governments, the food industry and consumers to observe food safety “to save lives and improve global health.”

“Food safety assurance is the responsibility of all stakeholders along the food chain from farm to plate. Food producers, manufacturers and traders need to take responsibility for the safety of food they produce and trade, while consumers must take preventive measures and follow good food safety practices,” WHO Regional Director for Western Pacific Shin Young-soo said.

Unsanitary food preparations containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances causes more than 200 diseases ranging from diarrhea to chronic diseases such as cancers.

WHO cautioned that unsafe food also creates a vicious cycle of disease and malnutrition, particularly affecting children and older people.

According to WHO, ensuring food safety in the region is a challenge due to rapid economic development, increase in travel and trade and some countries’ limited capacity to ensure food safety.

Diseases caused by unsanitary food impede socioeconomic development by straining health-care systems, and harming national economies, tourism and trade.

WHO has underscored the need to scale up collaboration between countries as food supply chains are increasing on cross-national borders.

“Lost export opportunities, business closure and loss of reputation have severe economic impact. In addition, the hidden cost to national economies due to absenteeism, reduced productive capacity and reduced income of the poorest population can be immense,” WHO added.

WHO said serious disease outbreaks caused by unsafe food have occurred in the region over the past 10 years.

The agency cited the contamination of infant formula with melamine in 2008 that affected 51,900 infants in China and resulted in six deaths.

WHO also cited the tsunami in Japan in March 2011 that caused the nuclear power plant reactor to leak and radio-nuclides spread into the soil, atmosphere, food and water. Excessive levels of radioactive iodine were found in raw milk and vegetables.

WHO also cited the recall of protein concentration products from New Zealand in August 2013 due to potential contamination with Clostridium botulinum bacteria.

To ensure food safety in the region, WHO developed several guidelines, including the Western Pacific Regional Food Safety Strategy 2011-2015 and the “Five Keys for Safer Food.”

WHO also worked with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to manage the International Food Safety Authorities Network, a network for rapid exchange of information during food safety events of international concern.

 

 

ACIRC FIVE KEYS FOOD FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL FOOD SAFETY AUTHORITIES NETWORK NEW ZEALAND REGIONAL DIRECTOR SAFER FOOD SAFETY WESTERN PACIFIC WESTERN PACIFIC REGIONAL FOOD SAFETY STRATEGY
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