Kolkata, Feb 6 : With an estimated 600 million cases of foodborne illnesses annually, unsafe food is a threat to human health and economies, disproportionally affecting vulnerable and marginalized people, especially women and children, populations affected by conflict and migrants.
Ongoing changes in climate, global food production and supply systems affect consumers, industry and the planet itself. These changes can have an impact on food safety systems and pose sustainability and development challenges.
The great majority of people will experience a foodborne disease at some point in their lives. This highlights the importance of making sure the food we eat is not contaminated with potentially harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses, toxins and chemicals.
Food can become contaminated at any point during production, distribution and preparation. Everyone along the production chain, from producer to consumer, has a role to play to ensure the food we eat does not cause diseases.
1 in 10 people fall ill every year from eating contaminated food, and 420 000 people die each year as a result. Children under 5 years of age are at particularly high risk, with some 125 000 young children dying from foodborne diseases every year. Proper food preparation can prevent most foodborne diseases.
The most common symptoms of foodborne disease are stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhoea. Food contaminated with heavy metals or with naturally occurring toxins can also cause long-term health problems including cancer and neurological disorders.
Infections caused by contaminated food have a much higher impact on populations with poor or fragile health status and can easily lead to serious illness and death. For infants, pregnant women, the sick and the elderly, the consequences of foodborne disease are usually more severe and may be fatal.
Today’s food supply is complex and involves a range of different stages including on-farm production, slaughtering or harvesting, processing, storage, transport and distribution before the food reaches the consumers. (UNI)