The world marks 2021 Food Safety Day with ‘Safe Food Today For A Healthy Tomorrow’

*Food safety concerns every consumer in every corner of the world, especially in view of how the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters have destroyed livelihoods of several millions of people across the globe

*The 2021 World Food Safety Day theme stresses that production and consumption of safe food has immediate and long-term benefits for consumers, the planet, and the economy, says World Health Organisation

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Food safety concerns all consumers in every corner of the world as the global community commemorates the 2021 World Food Safety Day (WFSD) Monday, June 7.

Recall in 2018, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly proclaimed that every year June 7 would be observed as World Food Safety Day.

Photo: US CDC

In a proactive move to ensure global food safety for all consumers, the World Health Assembly in 2020 further passed a resolution to strengthen efforts across the world for food safety and controlling food-borne diseases.

As food safety remains a matter of concerns everyone everywhere across the world, the prolonged and distressing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and natural disasters have devastated livelihoods of millions of people particularly in rural areas, according to report.

ConsumerConnect reports the overall objective of this year’s WFSD is to draw attention and inspire action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks, so as to contribute to food security, human health, economic prosperity, agriculture, market access, tourism and sustainable development.

The UN also reported that unsafe food alone kills an estimated 420,000 people every year.

Why ‘Safe Food Today For A Healthy Tomorrow’ theme for 2021 WFSD

In choosing this theme for the World Food Safety Day this year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated that the theme “stresses that production and consumption of safe food has immediate and long-term benefits for people, the planet and the economy.”

The theme also recognises the systemic connections between the health of people, animals, plants, the environment and the economy will help us meet the needs of the future.

According to the UN health body, there are five notable reasons why food safety is critical to consumers.

These are food security, good health, livelihoods of people globally, economic development and trade.

In terms of the consequences of food-borne diseases in consumers in recent years, a report noted that more painful is the fact that children account for 40 percent of the aggregate victims of food-borne diseases.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO

It was gathered that considering the recent advancements in the global food supply chains and nutrition regulatory and monitoring frameworks, the proliferation of unsafe foods and the consequent loss of lives is tragic, seeing as it is completely avoidable.

As the global community marks the 2021 World Food Safety Day Monday, it is recommended that consumers continue to ensure food safety, and wash raw food and vegetables thoroughly.

According to the organisation, food must be cooked thoroughly, raw and cooked food must be kept separately, food should be kept at safe temperatures, and clean water must be used for cooking.

Measures to reduce burden of food-borne diseases

In clear acknowledgment of the global problem of food-borne diseases afflicting consumers, which affect individuals of all ages, particularly children under-five and persons living in low-income countries of the world, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed in 2018 that every 7 June would be World Food Safety Day going forward.

ConsumerConnect reports the food-borne pathogens (E.coli and Salmonella) were mostly found to be responsible to these deaths.

Harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances have also been linked to more than 200 diseases, ranging from diarrhoea to cancers, according to report.

It was gathered that food can be chemically, biologically and physically contaminated. For instance, the toxins that occur naturally in some fishes may harm consumers.

The use of hazardous chemicals, such as dichlorvos for the storage of agricultural produce and the adoption of crude farming practices that involve the use of substandard fertilizers on local farms also may leave food contaminated and unsafe for public consumption.

Still, unauthorised preservatives to prolong the shelf life of food products can be hazardous to human health.

Pest droppings and other contaminants often contain bacteria and viruses that are harmful when carelessly allowed to get into food prepared for human consumption.

As noted earlier, the World Health Assembly further passed a resolution in order to strengthen global efforts at attaining food safety to reduce the burden of foodborne diseases.

WHO and UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) jointly facilitate the observance of WFSD, in collaboration with member states, and other relevant organisations.

A WHO factsheet apparently indicated that estimated 600 million people fall victim to unsafe, contaminated food every year.

While a large percentage of the estimated number of people who consume unsafe food suffer a range of illnesses such as diarrhea and cancer, about 420,000 of the victims die yearly.

The consumption of contaminated foods and the resulting cases of illnesses and deaths impact the global Labour force and productivity levels negatively.

The efficiency rate of the labour force is lowered, while medical bills gulp a chunk of corporate and public revenues.

Thus, in monetary terms, the world loses a whopping $110 billion annually to lost productivity due to consumption of contaminated foods.

Therefore, the fact that food safety concerns all consumers everywhere across the world, experts say it is a shared responsibility between governments, producers and consumers.

According to them, everyone has a role to play from farm to table to ensure that the food we all consume is safe and healthy.

It is as well noted that through the World Food Safety Day, WHO works to mainstream food safety in the public agenda and reduce the burden of foodborne diseases globally. Food safety is everyone’s business.

How CRM, other food-processing firms drive food safety initiatives in Nigeria

The ‘Safe Food Now for a Healthy Tomorrow’ theme of the 2021 World Food Safety Day could not have been more apt in drawing attention to the current global and national food security and safety issues.

There are reports of the imminent food shortage in certain countries/regions; and the increasing pivot to cheap, and in some cases, unsafe alternatives among segments of the global population has helped to galvanise governments and corporate bodies to effectively participate in food security and safety campaigns within their countries and operational regions respectively.

The rising cases of illnesses and deaths as a consequence of food-borne diseases demand wider actions, and this is where public-private collaborations are imperative, report stated.

Several global agencies, including the World Bank, and several private food processing firms as well are helping to address the food security and safety challenges by providing support resources at the production and supply levels to ensure the global population is well-nourished.

Therefore, as producers of one of the leading food staples in Nigeria, the flour milling industry has a responsibility to ensure food safety and security, reports BizWatchNigeria.

Ashish Pande, Managing Director of Crown Flour Mill (CFM) Limited, a subsidiary of Olam Group, was quoted to have said currently, “the wheat value chain accounts for 75 million of the daily food portions in Nigerian households.

“As such, food safety is of very critical importance both ethically and financially to the food production space.

According to CRM Managing Director, “quality is extremely imperative as it helps to reduce risks and cost thereby increasing sales and improving reputation.”

The leading miller noted that food safety starts from raw material procurement through to the manufacturing processes, storage and distribution and right up to when it gets to the consumer.

Jean Hazoume, Vice-President, Quality of CFM, stated: “We ensure that all legal and regulatory requirements are met at all levels, with rigorous procedures followed in line with the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) standards to optimise best practices.

“Our factories are certified compliant with international standards, and preventive & corrective actions are taken as at when due.

“We pay maximum attention where food safety and quality are concerned.”

In connection with food traceability, which is a vital part of operational efficiency in the food processing business, entails identifying the source of all food inputs such as raw materials, additives, other ingredients, and packaging.

CFM’s operations underscore the importance of traceability for the production of safe food products, according to report.

It is also stated that food quality measures by CFM include the deployment of cutting-edge vitamin premix to boost the supply of nutritious, and safe food products that meet the regulatory requirement of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) for the local market.

As manufacturers of food products make efforts at meeting consumer preferences in modern times,

Pande said: “We have a few things in the pipeline in terms of new product development that would further excite our customers.

“However, at present, our food labels convey information about our product’s nutritional identity and contents, and on how to handle them safely.”

According to the company, these contain vital details, such as preparation and consumption directions, date of manufacture and expiry of the product as well as storage instructions.

Our nutrition labels describe the nutrient content of our products and are intended to guide the consumer in food selection, said he.

The CRM Chief also stated that nutrient content is carefully selected and based on compliance with regulatory dietary recommendations.

Pande added: “Keeping the contents of our food products safe for their required shelf life is fundamental to avoiding food contamination.”

As the world commemorates the 2021 Food Safety Day June 7, report noted that CRM continues to contribute to food safety and security drive in Nigeria towards attaining the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG of Zero Hunger by 2030.

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