Minister calls for urgent food safety measures

June 13, 2024 3:46 pm

[File Photo]

The Health Minister has highlighted the critical importance of food safety in protecting lives and promoting public health as we mark World Food Safety Day, today.

Doctor Atonio Lalabalavu says there is an urgent need for heightened awareness, preventive measures, and collaborative efforts to ensure a safer food environment for all.

He says that approximately 600 million individuals suffer annually from nearly 200 distinct types of foodborne illnesses.

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Doctor Lalabalavu says this burden falls disproportionately on the underserved, with children under five- years- old bearing 40 percent of the foodborne disease burden, facing increased risks of malnutrition and mortality due to unsafe food.

Health Minister Doctor Atonio Lalabalavu

While reflecting on local concerns, the Minister noted a significant rise in reported fish and food poisoning cases over the past decade, highlighting the gravity of food safety issues in the region.

He says access to a sufficient supply of safe and nutritious food is instrumental in sustaining life and promoting good health.

The Health Minister stresses that unsafe food laden with harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemical substances can result in over 200 diseases, ranging from gastrointestinal disorders to cancer.

He says while unforeseen circumstances may compromise food safety, proactive measures can mitigate ensuing risks and avert illness.

He says these incidents may vary from minor localized events to widespread international crises, necessitating a global approach to address the evolving dangers associated with unsafe food across borders.

The Health Minister says food safety is everyone’s business emphasizing the shared responsibility in ensuring food safety from production to consumption.

The theme for this year’s World Food Safety Day, is “Food Safety: Prepare for the unexpected.”