African countries have been admonished to give serious attention to the development of food safety standards and practices in the respective countries, to safeguard the public against diseases.
The call was made by Dr Abebe Haile –Gabriel, the Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa of the FAO at the celebration of the World Food Safety Day in Accra last Friday.
It was jointly organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA).
The local celebration that was held on the theme: “Food safety, everyone’s business.”
Delivering his speech, the FAO representative said food-borne diseases in low and middle-income countries cost those countries about $100 billion a year.
According to him, FAO had been supporting institutions such as the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), the Veterinary Services Directorate, the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services, the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), as well as the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, to improve upon food safety and nutrition in Ghana.
Statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) says about 600 million people, almost one in 10 people in the world, fall ill after eating contaminated food, leading to 420,000 deaths every year.
Children under five years of age carried 40 per cent of the food-borne diseases burden that caused 125,000 deaths among children annually.
The statistics further shows that African countries have the highest burden with more than 91 million people falling ill from consuming contaminated food and 137,000 deaths every year.
On his part, the WHO Representative to Ghana, Dr Owen Kaluwa, said unsafe food were food that contained harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances that caused diseases such as acute diarrhoea and cancers.
“A recent World Bank study found out that the public health cost estimate of food-borne diseases in low and middle-income economies alone is a staggering $15.1 billion,” Dr Kaluwa added.
The Minister of Health, Mr. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu in a speech read on hgis behalf said the threat of food-borne diseases to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations was a reality as the country currently faced challenges in ensuring food safety.
The event brought together policy makers, civil society organisations and development partners, to deliberate on how to improve food safety along the food value chain in Ghana to protect public health.