The importance of worldwide food safety was highlighted this week when the World Health Organisation (WHO) made it their annual focus for World Health Day. It comes hot the heels of new statistics released that show the high level of harmful threats posed by unsafe food all around the world.
The WHO believes there is a real need for a globally managed system focussed on food industry supply-chains. The system would be aimed at reducing the threats of harmful foodborne illnesses, particularly as they cross international borders. Because there are over 200 diseases that can be caused as a result of poor food safety, using such a system could hugely reduce the number of affected people.
Why is food safety so important?
Dr Margaret Chan, the WHO Director-General, said ‘a local food safety problem can rapidly become an international emergency. Investigation of an outbreak of foodborne disease is vastly more complicated when a single plate or package of food contains ingredients from multiple countries.’
‘Farm to plate, make food safe’ is the slogan for this year’s World Health Day and it focuses on raising the awareness of everyday food safety. As food is grown, prepared and consumed on a daily basis, it is for everyone’s benefit that practicing proper food safety becomes globally important.
Those most affected by poor food safety
Illnesses resulting from unsafe food are most evident in many of the developing nations. In early findings reported in the WHO’s Global Burden of Foodborne Diseases, Africa is recorded to have the highest levels of foodborne disease from consuming contaminated food, with South-East Asia following close behind.
One very worrying figure is that of all of the illnesses reported after consuming contaminated food and drink, 40 per cent were children aged under 5 years old. Educating the world about the importance of food safety through events like the World Health Day is a vital step in the fight against foodborne illness.
The WHO has produced a campaign toolkit that includes the strategies, activities and a mountain of useful information on global food safety. So if you want to get involved in this very important issue, click through to the WHO website and find out more!