This year’s World Environmental Health Day theme - Global Food Safety and Sustainability - aims to support the provision of more safe food, to make use of precious water and nutrient resources, and for communities to increasingly value sustainable food production.
Food safety has to do with safeguarding our own national food supply chain from the introduction, growth or survival of hazardous microbial and chemical agents. As our food supply becomes increasingly globalised, the need to strengthen food safety systems in and between all countries is becoming more and more evident.
After the outbreak of listeriosis, a serious foodborne disease, early in 2017 which resulted in 183 deaths, South Africans are very aware of the importance of food safety,” says Deidré Penfold, Executive Director of the Chemical and Allied Industries’ Association (CAIA).
“The listeriosis crisis seems under control, but new threats to food safety are constantly emerging. Changes in food production, distribution and consumption; changes to the environment; new and emerging pathogens; antimicrobial resistance; as well as international trade – all pose challenges to national food safety systems,” says Penfold.
- An estimated 600 million – almost 1 in 10 people in the world – fall ill after eating contaminated food with children under 5 years of age carry 40% of the foodborne disease burden, resulting in 125,000 deaths every year.
- Food wastage is assuming serious dimensions. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, a staggering 1,3 billion tons of food is being wasted annually. Even if just one-fourth of the food currently lost or wasted globally could be saved, it would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people in the world.
Raising awareness among industries, retailers and consumers as well as finding beneficial use for food that is presently thrown away are useful ideas when considering how to celebrate World Environmental Health Day, says Penfold.