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Food Safety is the Theme for World Health Day

April 7, 2015

burgerThe World Health Organisation has chosen food safety as the theme for today’s World Health Day. Using the slogan ‘from farm to plate’,0 the WHO hope to highlight the challenges and opportunities associated with food safety across the globe. Initial figures from the Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group (FERG) estimate that there were 582 million cases of 22 different foodborne enteric diseases resulting in 351,000 associated deaths worldwide in 2010. Salmonella Typhi, E. coli and norovirus were responsible for the highest proportion of fatalities while over 40% of those suffering from enteric diseases caused by contaminated food were children under five. The full results from the study will be published in October.

WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan believes the increasing industrialisation of the food industry is partly to blame. “Food production has been industrialized and its trade and distribution have been globalized. These changes introduce multiple new opportunities for food to become contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemicals,” she 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.”

Unsafe food can also carry a heavy economic burden, with WHO officials estimating that the E. coli outbreak in Germany in 2011 resulted in a loss of £870 million to the industry and £158 million in emergency aid payments to 22 European Union member states. 

You can find out more about World Health Day here