In order to raise awareness about the importance of safe food practices and to highlight the global need for safe food, June 7 is observed as World Food Safety Day. As per World Health Organisation, the annual celebration is aimed to draw attention and inspire action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks. In other words, it is aimed at improving human health through conscious eating.
Food safety is a serious global issue as contaminated food can lead to severe health consequences including foodborne illnesses, outbreaks and even death. Unsafe food can be contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances. Many factors including inadequate hygiene practices, improper food handling and inadequate food storage and processing can contribute to foodborne illnesses.
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) established the World Food Safety Day in 2018 to raise awareness of this important issue. The observance across the world is jointly facilitated by the WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with member states and other stakeholders.
The main objective of the day is to promote the prevention, detection, and management of foodborne diseases. It aims to emphasize the significance of safe food handling, storage and preparation to prevent illness and ensure the well-being of individuals and communities worldwide.
According to WHO, an estimated 600 million fall sick and 420,000 others die every year after eating contaminated food.
There are over 200 foodborne diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances entering the body through contaminated food, it said. In worst case scenarios, these diseases can also lead to the development of cancer cells in the body.
The Who highlights that children under five years of age carry 40 per cent of the foodborne disease burden, with 125,000 deaths every year. Also Foodborne diseases impede socio-economic development by straining health care systems and harming national economies, tourism and trade.
Recently Union Health Secretary rightly underscored the need for a multifaceted and multi-stakeholder approach — involving industries, government machinery and regulators —to ensure food safety and create awareness at each level of the society. There is need for everyone to focus on food safety. It is rather everyone’s business. Everyone in the food system needs to work not only to keep food safe as also food systems operating.
Ensuring food is safely produced, processed, distributed and consumed throughout the entire supply chain concerns all. The government agencies need to work hard to ensure that common people get safe food.