On World Food Safety Day, it is important to take a look at what governments and food producers have been doing to ensure safe food. Food safety is critical not only for our health status but it’s an instrumental tool to end world hunger as well. With around 690M affected by world hunger, we need to actively work towards ensuring safe and accessible food for everyone.
Food safety entails handling, storing and preparing food in a manner that ensures the food will not lose any of its nutritional values or cause any infections. WHO reports that around 460 thousand people die yearly because of contaminated food. The consumption of contaminated food can result in diarrhoea disease, which is one of the most common illnesses relating to unsafe food. Not only that but contaminated food can cause different kinds of bacteria, viruses and parasites that can be detrimental to one's health. And with the theme this year being “Safe food now for a healthy tomorrow”, it is pivotal to shed light on what should be done to ensure that we will have a healthier and brighter tomorrow. For instance, governments need to have an open and flexible mind in order to keep up with the continuous changes in technology that can potentially be used to aid in providing safe food. In addition, governments and food manufacturers need to put their joint efforts in the quality, safety, value and nutrition of the food being distributed. Continuous quality checks should be carried out regularly in order to ensure that safety standards and procedures are being met. One great example is UAE’s efforts in ensuring that food safety regulations are followed and maintained. Not only that, but the Food Safety Department of Dubai Municipality created the Eat Healthy, Live Healthy program in order to make sure that all dishes served in the Emirate’s eateries are in fact certified and healthy. A dish is certified once the ingredients, calories, saturated fat and spices are evaluated and verified to be healthy and safe. In addition, the program also makes sure that the restaurants continue to comply with the standards of producing healthy and safe dishes.
However, setting the foundation for food safety is only the first step. And food producers should play more of an active role to ensure that they are producing and providing the world with safe and high quality food. For example, Nestle ensures that the entire food supply chain is working according to their high standards. Nestle works on checking that there are no chemicals or foreign materials in the ingredients that they use, as well as testing any product before leaving their factories. The driving force behind their food safety practices lies within their R&D department, which focuses on safely designing and using innovative technologies that better ensure food safety. Furthermore, it is important to note that in order for any food producer to provide safe food, it has to implement a culture that values and focuses on food safety. Training employees to know that food safety is integral will help the world reach a healthier tomorrow.
While many food producers are actively working to ensure the production and delivery of safe and healthy food, it is imperative that we take a look at how food safety was handled in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. A study of 825 companies suggests that around 65% of the companies had an accredited food safety plan that can be followed and implemented during the pandemic, whereas around 22% said their food safety plans were basic and around 12% said that they had no plan in place in the first place. Hygiene and awareness were among the top concerns when it came to the pandemic. Because only through staff training, raising awareness and increasing hygiene measures can companies ensure that the pandemic will not have an impact on food safety. Furthermore, the FAO says that while there is no proof that the Covid-19 virus can be transmitted from food, cleaning and maintaining high levels of hygiene are the most critical approaches to fight against food illnesses. While more companies seem to be concerned with food safety, and the study suggests that many of those unprepared were quick to implement strict preventive measure; it can still be quite worrying having food producers that are unable to ensure food safety during a worldwide pandemic.
The pandemic has also had a significant impact on how food safety inspections can be carried out, as well as introducing new violations that were never accounted for before. For instance, not raising awareness, providing masks, gloves and hygiene in the workplace and not implementing social distancing have now become real violations to food safety.
Despite the fact that governments and companies are now more concerned with food safety, given the high impact the pandemic has had on our health, there is still a long way to go when it comes to ending the global disease burden caused by violations in food safety. There are many countries who are still violating food safety regulations and thus threatening the lives of thousands of people. Reports suggest that the countries with the lowest rank in terms of food safety and quality include Sierra Leone, Togo, Mozambique, Zambia, and Yemen. But the good news is that there are also many countries who actively advocate for the importance of food safety. According to 2020 data, Canada is at the top worldwide in terms of food safety and quality. Canada believes in the importance of advocating for food safety and the importance of continuously working on improving it.
🇪🇺 The EU has one of the highest #foodsafety standards in the world – largely thanks to its solid #foodlaw and key tools like "RASFF" that help recall potentially harmful products from the market in time.— EUFIC (@EUFIC) May 29, 2021
How does it work? 👇 pic.twitter.com/EA6FMfUSwI
Today, the world is paying more attention to food safety because of the pandemic and its consequences. Thus it is instrumental that more companies are aware of the importance of implementing a food safety strategy that can ensure safe and healthy access to food for everyone.
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