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Special Report: Food Safety Day 2019: Food Safety Is Everyone’s Business

Food safety is the proper handling, preparing (production) and storing of raw, semi-processed or processed food in a way to best reduce the risk of individuals becoming sick from foodborne diseases. It is also the absence of hazards in any food (raw, semi-processed or processed) that may harm the health of consumers.

It is necessary that food stays very safe at every stage of the food production – from harvest to processing, then storage and finally distribution to the final consumer.

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About 600 million estimated cases of foodborne diseases occur annually worldwide and three million out of them die of the foodborne diseases. Whenever food is unsafe food, it becomes a big threat to human health. This brings us to the question, how safe is the food we eat?

Most people may be able to attest to the safety of the food they eat at home because it is made under careful supervision, but no one can say how the food we eat out is produced. A lot of people, in Nnewi and Anambra state, rely on food vendors to get their daily meal especially when they are at work, from beans to rice, roasted plantain(Bole), African Salad(Abacha), Breadfruit(Ukwa), soup and other local delicacies. Also, the fast food chain which is gradually growing in the state will not be left out and it is generally uncertain how this food is made. We have heard about cases in the past where families ate dinner and died from food poisoning (Unhealthy/unsafe food), which is avoidable. The impact of the lack of food safety cannot be overemphasized.

Around the state, Anambra, food vendor can be seen selling edibles at unclean places; an example is the fruit vendors that sell fruits close to the waste disposal point at Izuchukwu junction, the fufu sellers who sell their wrapped fufu at Okpuno-egbu market close to another waste disposal point both in Nnewi, also the popular Nwa-Orie market is located opposite a waste disposal point at Anglican girls junction and many others like this across the state. What does waste have in common with food? Surely, the food we consume is poorly handled and probably contaminated even before we consume them.

The illustration above is not limited to fruits and food but includes poultry and meat which Anambra state consumes in large portions. In line with global best practices, every poultry animal/every cattle should be slaughtered under the supervision of a veterinary doctor(ministry of Agriculture) in most cases this is not obtainable in the state. It is highly uncertain the state of the animal before it is killed, healthy or unhealthy it will be sold at a table stand for people to buy.

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We all are vulnerable to unsafe food and prone to food poisoning if our food is not properly handled. We all need food daily as a starting point for our energy, to improve health and our well-being. We often take for granted that it is safe.

Food safety issues arise from several factors such as poverty, street foods, improper agricultural practices, artisanal activities, poor hygiene at all stages of the food chain, lack of preventive controls in food processing operations, misuse of chemicals and additives, additives used above permitted levels, inappropriate storage, and handling, microbiological contaminants, biological toxins, pesticide, and veterinary residues, counterfeiting, and adulteration, amongst other factors (Omotayo and Denloye, 2002).

Food safety is everybody’s business and concern and can be achieved when the state government takes it seriously. The government can take proactive and preventive measures by analyzing the hazard risks, sanitation controls, leveraging on the best tools and technologies; above all working hand in hand with all the agency whose responsibility it is to ensure food safety including the Ministry of Agriculture, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), National Food Risk Analysis Centre (NFRAC) Unit (domiciled in NAFDAC), Ministry of Health, Standards Organization of Nigeria, National Codex Committee, a consumer association, research institutes to ensure the state food system is strengthened.

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What is World Food Safety Day?

World Food safety day is celebrated on the 7th day of June. Today marks the first World Food Safety celebration with the theme “…Food Safety, Everyone’s Business…”. According to history, The Codex Alimentarius Commission at its 39th session, held in 2016, unanimously agreed to promote a proposal to proclaim a World Food Safety Day on a permanent basis within the framework of the United Nations. The 40th Session of the FAO Conference in July 2017 adopted a resolution in support of a World Food Safety Day and the World Health Organization expressed its support in December 2017.

In December 2018, the General Assembly decided to designate 7 June as World Food Safety Day. On 13 February 2019 the participants of the First FAO/WHO/AU International Conference on Food Safety in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, highlighted the integral role of food safety in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They also noted the ongoing changes in climate and in global food production and supply systems and the need to empower the consumer through improved and evidence-based health and nutrition information and education – UN

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