Everyone has the right to safe, nutritious and sufficient food.
However, one in ten in the world gets sick after consuming contaminated food.
The 7th of June is a special day to recognize the hard work of the people involved along the food production chain so that they reach consumers safely. .
(PAHO/WHO) With the main objective of promoting actions to help prevent, detect and manage the risks transmitted through food, this 7 June the World Food Safety Day. A date to recognize the work of the various actors in the food production chain, who work to ensure a continuous and safe supply of food.
Everyone has the right to a nutritious, sufficient and safe diet. Currently, in the world it is estimated that one in ten people get sick after consuming contaminated food, and that 420 thousand die each year, with children under the age of 5 the most affected, with 125 thousand deaths annually.
What happens when food is not harmless? Children cannot learn and adults cannot work, so human development cannot occur as it should. Safe food is central to health promotion and hunger eradication, three of the 17 goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
If food is not safe there can be no food security. In a world where the food supply chain has become more complex, any adverse incidents concerning food safety, human health, economic prosperity, agriculture, tourism and sustainable development can be adversely affected.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated the challenges faced by food systems, especially in vulnerable countries. There is a reduction in food marketing and accessibility in some developing countries, which is compromising food security. This is why efforts should be made to: (a) limit or eliminate the transmission of animal diseases to humans (zoonotic diseases) through more effective food safety management; and (b) ensure that epidemics and pandemics do not become food security and nutrition crises.
Safety and traditional food markets
During this day we want to emphasize the importance of food safety in traditional markets. Also known as fairs, these markets are the main source of fresh and accessible food for many low-income groups, and in turn, an important source of livelihood for millions of urban and rural inhabitants in the Americas. However, traditional markets, particularly those selling live animals, have been identified on the Asian continent as potential hotspots for several outbreaks of zoonotic diseases such as SARS, avian influenza and recently SARS-CoV-2 (COVID – 19). It is therefore important to regulate the production and sale of live animals to prevent the spread of emerging diseases.
“In addition to safety, we want to emphasize that, from a public health point of view, food markets can be a potential focus of outbreaks of zoonotic diseases and disease transmission. That is why it is important to alert the authorities of the countries of the region to the need for regulations and inspections to prevent risks in transport, retention and market centres,” said Dr Ottorino Cosivi, Director of PANAFTOSA-PAHO/WHO.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), through its Regional Action Plan for Technical Cooperation in Food Safety, which is coordinated by the Pan American Centre for Foot and Mouth Fever and Veterinary Public Health (PANAFTOSA/SPV-PAHO/WHO), is working with countries in the region to strengthen their food safety systems.
Dr. Margarita Corrales, responsible for panaFTOSA’s food safety area, says: “Foods, which contain bacteria, viruses, parasites or harmful chemicals, cause more than 200 diseases, ranging from diarrhoea to cancer. Foodborne diseases are a global public health problem and so we cooperate with the countries of the Americas to strengthen their food safety systems.”
WHAT CAN WE DO TO ACHIEVE LASTING CHANGE?
To ensure food safety, from PANAFTOSA/SPV-OPS/WHO we invite all actors in the production chain, from the field to the table, to participate in this day and promote the basic principles for safe food production:
- Ensuring safety: Governments must ensure safe and nutritious food for all. They are responsible for formulating policies that can promote agriculture and sustainable food systems, fostering multisectoral collaboration in public health, animal health, agriculture and other sectors.
- Growing safe foods: agricultural and food producers have to adopt good practices. They must ensure the supply of food inocuous to consumers.
- Keeping food safe: Business operators must ensure that food is transported, stored and processed innocuously. This helps to maintain safety and preserve the nutritional value of food, as well as reduce post-harvest losses.
- Eating food safely: Consumers have the ability to drive change. They are entitled to safe, healthy and nutritious foods, so they need access to timely, clear and reliable information regarding the nutritional and disease risks associated with their food choices.
Acting together for safety: governments, regional economic agencies, United Nations organizations, development agencies, trade organizations, consumer and producer groups, academic and research institutions, as well as private sector entities, must work together on food safety issues.