As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to celebrate the 2023 World Food Safety Day on Thursday, Dr Walter Mulombo, Country Representative of World Health Organisation (WHO) in Nigeria says about 420,000 people die yearly around the world from food contamination.
Dr Mulombo said this in Abuja at the commemoration organised by the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), WHO and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) with the theme: “Food Standards Save Lives”.
The country representative, represented by Dr. Pindar Wakawa, Nutrition Officer, Universal Health Coverage/Non-Communicable Disease Cluster, WHO Nigeria, said over 200 diseases are caused by eating foods contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites and chemical substances including heavy metals.
” Every year, 420,000 people die and more than 600 million (1 in 10 people in the World) get ill from eating contaminated foods.
The World Food Safety Day is celebrated on June 7 every year “to raise awareness on the importance of food safety and to inspire action to prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks,” he said.
Dr. Otto Muhinda, Country Team Leader(FAO) Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD), also said the celebration aimed to draw attention and inspire actions to help prevent, detect and manage food-related risks.
He said the actions would contribute to food security , human health, economic prosperity, agricultural production, market access, tourism and sustainable development.
According to him, the theme of this year’s event means that standards not only provide guidance to farmers and processors on the hygienic handling of foods, but also define the maximum level of additives and contaminants that could be consumed.
“The relationship between food safety and food security is very close, but they stand for different things, food security talks about access to food, food safety talks about the quality of foods,” he said.
Farouk Salim, Director-General of Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), said there was a need for synergy to improve food safety practices and promote economic growth towards ensuring the well-being of the nation.
He said food standards are not just a regulatory measure, but the basis of commitment to safeguarding the health and well-being of Nigerians.
The DG, represented by Yunusa Mohammed, a Deputy Director and Head, Food Group /Codex, said without proper standards and regulations in place, foods could become potential sources of hazard.
“Food standards provide minimum requirements for protecting consumers from foodborne illnesses, contamination and fraudulent practices.
“By adhering to the quality and safety requirements prescribed in the Nigerian Industrial food standards, we will minimise risks and foster public confidence in the safety and quality of the foods purchased and consumed nationwide,” he said.