Thursday, 10 October 2013

ARTICLE: Who is looking out for your food safety?

I was moved to write about this "Sad and Preventable issue" after I read so many issues and cases of food poisoning. Each year millions of people become ill and thousands die from a preventable foodborne disease. Proper food preparation can prevent many foodborne diseases.

If it seems food safety issues are on the rise, that's because they are. About 48 million people contract some form of food poisoning each year. (CDC report on Food and Health2012).

Common culprits include bacteria, parasites and viruses. Symptoms range from mild to serious.

They include

Upset stomach
Abdominal cramps
Nausea and vomiting

Harmful bacteria are the most common cause of foodborne illness. Foods may have some bacteria on them when you buy them. Raw meat may become contaminated during slaughter. Fruits and vegetables may become contaminated when they are growing or when they are processed. But it can also happen in your kitchen if you leave food out for more than 2 hours at room temperature.

In Africa, it is a serious threat to people, especially those weakened from devastating conditions such as malaria and HIV/AIDS. The high incidence of diarrhoeal diseases among newborns and young children are indications of the food hygiene situation in the African Region. Although outbreaks of acute poisoning are frequent, inadequate surveillance systems hinder governments' ability to accurately assess the impact of food contamination problems on public health.

Another underlying cause of consumption of unsafe food in the African Region is poverty, other factors, such as lack of access to clean water, weak government structures, population growth, the rise of AIDS and other communicable diseases, trade pressure, and poor environmental conditions worsens the situation.

While the governments of other regions are making policies, funding research and following them up with proper regulation to prevent and control cases of Food borne diseases to better the life of the poor in the society, the government in Africa is concerned about MONEY and POWER with no interest in regulating food preparation and storage.

NAFDAC: National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control.

It is responsible for regulating and controlling the manufacture, importation, exportation, advertisement, distribution, sale and use of FOOD, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, chemicals and packaged water. Conduct appropriate tests and ensure compliance with standard specifications designated and approved by the council for the effective control of quality of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, bottled water, and chemicals.

Food Safety Role: In the food safety chain, the agency's mission is to protect the American public from health threats, usually in the form of food-borne illness.

The NAFDAC is to investigate individual cases and outbreaks of food-borne illness (primarily bacteria-based like listeria, salmonella and E. coli) and trace them back to their origin.

In times of emergencies and weather crises like flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes or power outages, NAFDAC and the Ministry of Agriculture should provide information and guidelines for food storage and disposal.

There should be proper response to outbreak, as well as monitoring activities after an illness has been identified. It should be designed to streamline efforts across the agency, and develop strategies to prevent and identify future threats to the food system.

*Tips: The five keys to safer food

- Keep clean
- Separate raw and cooked
- Cook thoroughly
- Keep food at safe temperatures
- Use safe water and raw materials

Washing hands and surfaces often and properly helps kills harmful bacteria. Refrigerators are one of the most important defenses against foodborne illness. Refrigerating food properly keeps food out of the Danger Zone and helps protect it from harmful bacteria.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld from Glo Mobile.

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