Home Health & Food WHO, FAO experts urge global action on food safety

WHO, FAO experts urge global action on food safety

by James Davies

Oluwatobiloba Jaiyeola

A food safety officer at the Food and Agriculture Organisation, and an official of the World Health Organisation have urged stakeholders in the food and health sectors to do more to ensure food safety across the world.

The FAO official, Jeffrey LeJeune, urged food consumers, processors and other stakeholders involved in food processing to work hand in hand in making food safer for consumption.

According to LeJeune, working together by stakeholders will help ensure foods are free from contaminants and also help in reducing the risk of individuals getting sick and developing food-borne diseases.

He spoke during a virtual session organised by the World Health Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation to commemorate the World Food Safety Day, noting that food safety should be a concern for everyone.

The FAO official said, “It could be anyone, consumers, food processors, people who grow the food, people who collect the food and many more. 

“Everyone has a role to play and their roles are different. So, by working together, we can make the food safer because contaminants can enter the food chain anywhere from production to consumption.

“So working at the farm and making sure of the inputs in the farm, ensuring the water is clean, the animals are healthy, the food is processed under hygienic practices and distributed properly to keep it from getting contaminated are important.

“The consumers should wash their hands properly, keep their kitchen clean and also, cook food properly. 

“We want to make sure food is safe because it has health implications.”

Also speaking at the virtual session, a scientist in the department of nutrition and food safety at the WHO, Simone Raszl stated that food-borne diseases are a health issue, noting that this is not usually considered by member states, countries and by health sector leaders.  

According to her, there are over 200 diseases that can be caused by consuming poor quality food.

She noted that food-borne diseases should not be seen as only a government issue, urging all stakeholders in the food industry, the civil societies, and consumers, to work together to curb food-borne diseases.

Food-borne diseases, Raszl noted, are avoidable and preventable if everyone adopts good hygiene practices that will help in reducing the risks.

She said, “Every year, one in 10 people will fall ill because of food-borne diseases or unsafe food. If we consider food-borne diseases preventable, it is not acceptable that we have people dying because of them.  

“We can prevent and avoid the issues if we take very simple measures at home or when preparing food in a restaurant or a commercial kitchen or a company.”

She said, “Have your hands clean by washing your hands properly before you work with food, keep food at the right temperatures, use good ingredients, cook food properly and avoid cross-contamination.”

Cross-contamination, she said is, “For instance, when you are working with raw meat and you use the same surface to work with raw vegetables like salad, so you cook the meat and kill the contaminants there but that would not happen with the salad, that’s what we call cross-contamination.”

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