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420,000 persons die of contaminated foods globally annually- WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said an estimated 420,000 persons die annually across the world from consuming contaminated foods.

The fatalities, according to the global health body, are from an estimated 600 million people who globally fall sick from eating food contaminated by bacteria, viruses, or chemical substances.

WHO country representative in Nigeria, Walter Molumbo, while speaking at an event to commemorate the World Food Safety Day, last Thursday, said there were over 200 of these diseases, ranging from diarrhoea to cancers.

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Represented by WHO deputy country representative, Alex Chimbaru, he said efforts must be made to reduce the number of deaths and cases recorded every year.

He said the United Nations General Assembly in 2018 adopted resolution 73/250 proclaiming June 7 as World Food Safety Day, taking into account the global burden of food-borne diseases.

He added that these food-borne diseases affect individuals of all ages, and particularly children under five years and persons living in low-income regions.

Mr. Mulombo said the resolution acknowledges that there is no food security without food safety.

He further explained that in a world where the food supply chain has become more complex, any adverse food safety incident may have global negative effects on public health, trade, and the economy.

“We all have a role to play; whether we grow, process, transport, store, sell, buy, prepare or serve food, food safety is in all our hands. And if we work together, we can all help achieve safer food for better health,” he said.

The World Food Safety Day is marked on June 7, 2022, to draw attention and mobilise action to prevent, detect and manage food-borne risks and improve human health.

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This year’s theme is “Safer Food, Better Health.”

Mr. Mulombo said the theme highlights the role that safe and nutritional food plays in ensuring human health and well-being and calls for a set of specific actions for different stakeholders to make food safer.

He said the benefits of safe food include improved nutrition and reduced absenteeism in schools and the workplace.

He said the WHO will continue to work with ministries of health, environment and agencies to advocate for food safety as an important component of health security and for integrating food safety into national policies and programmes.

The country representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Nigeria, Fred Kafeero, said food safety plays an important role in human lives and that this year’s theme emphasises the importance of safe food to the planet.