World Food Safety Day: NVMA tasks govt, stakeholders on food safety

The Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA) has called on government at all levels and stakeholders in the livestock industry to take concrete steps to safe guard the health of the public by providing adequate infrastructure and manpower to handle food safety issues.

The association in a statement signed by the Publicity Secretary, Dr. Gloria Daminabo, in Abuja on Thursday, the body said the initiative will help prevent avoidable food borne illnesses and death.

The NVMA urged all stakeholders in the food production and supply chain to imbibe good safety practices as laid out in the country’s laws in their operations and seek advice from professionals to meet global food safety needs and access to market.

Nigeria on Thursday joined the rest of the world to celebrate the 7th June maiden edition of the United Nations World Food Safety Day with the theme “Food Safety, Everybody’s Business”,

The NVMA boss urged agencies and professionals in the food safety industry to live up to their responsibilities and work in synergy to curtail morbidity and mortality associated with food borne diseases in the overall interest of Nigerians.

She said: “The association has noted the risk, morbidity and mortality figures from food related illnesses around the world especially from developing nations such as Nigeria due to poor production practices, handling, processing, adulteration, marketing and consumption of food of animal origin.

“And the Association is deeply concerned about the poor state of food of animal origin infrastructure especially, the abattoirs and slaughters slabs, under developed traditional dairy facilities, transportation facilities and marketing outlets etc, under regulation of food supply chain and enforcement of food safety regulations, and inadequate veterinary and other related manpower in line with global best practices in the country. 

“This has led to morbidity and mortality, economic losses, and inability Of our country, Nigeria to participate and benefit fully in international trade in food Of animal origin despite our enormous livestock resources.

“The Association, therefore calls on all tiers Of Government to take concrete steps to safe guard the health of the public by providing adequate infrastructure and manpower to handle food safety issues in other to prevent avoidable food borne illnesses and death.

“We also encourage the public to take more interest in food safety issues and demand at minimum, action by Government, producers and professionals to allow only safe and wholesome food to reach the supply chain from farm to the table,” Daminabo said.

She assured that the Association will continue to play its advocacy and professional role in collaboration with relevant stake-holders and the public to promote the goal of safe food practice as enshrined in national and international regulations, treaties, and guidelines for the benefit of humanity.

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Europe: 23m people fall sick from eating contaminated food annually – WHO

As the world celebrate the United Nations World Food Safety Day, a World Health Organisation (WHO) report has stated that an estimated 4700 persons die yearly from eating contaminated food.

This is just as another 23 million fall sick annuallyfrom eating contaminated food.

The report which based its findings on a review of the most recent available data titled “The burden of food borne diseases in the WHO European Region” sated it represents only the tip of the iceberg-the true number of cases is unknown.

The findings was presented on the occasion of the first-ever World Food Safety Day on 7 June 2019. 

WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, said, “Every country around the world, from small to big, from rich to poor, has suffered from food borne illnesses, and Europe is no exception. The scale of the challenge posed by food borne disease is striking, indicating the importance of preventing and mitigating risks to food safety.

“Food is a global affair with a food chain that wraps around the planet. A simple meal can easily contain ingredients from multiple continents and its safety depends on international collaboration. World Food Safety Day is an unprecedented opportunity to call on governments to strengthen the systems that guarantee safe food, across sectors and across Europe and the world.”

“Unsafe food is responsible for millions of sick days, and can sometimes lead to lasting or severe illness, hospitalization and even death. The overall burden of food borne disease in the Region is estimated to be 413 020 disability-adjusted life-years, meaning years in which a person’s life is affected by a disease.

A variety of bacteria, viruses, parasites and chemical hazards have potentially serious consequences not only for human health but also for the economy and environment.

According to the estimates, the most frequent causes of food borne illness are diarrhoea disease agents. The most common is norovirus with an estimated 15 million cases, followed by Campylobacter spp., which is responsible for almost 5 million cases.

Non-typhoidal Salmonella spp. causes the majority of deaths. Other major causes of deaths are  Campylobacter spp., norovirus, Listeria monocytogenes and Echinococcus multilocularis.

Overall , diarrhoea diseases are responsible for 94 per cent of food borne illnesses, 63 per cent of related deaths and 57 per cent% of the disease burden in the region.

“Food is something people don’t think about until it goes wrong, yet unacceptable numbers of people are being subjected to the misery of foodborne illness, sometimes with serious consequences – especially for the very young and very old,” explains Dr Dorit Nitzan, Acting Regional Emergency Director at WHO/Europe.

“From hand washing, cooking and storing food properly, to surveillance and international regulation – every piece of the food safety puzzle affects lives, economies and whole communities,” Dr Nitzan concludes. “World Food Safety Day is our opportunity to say out loud that it’s teamwork that will make the difference.”

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HOMEF urges FG to pay more attention to air pollution

Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), the ecological Think Tank has called on the federal government to give the issue of pollution the seriousness it deserves due to the horrendous impacts it has on the health and livelihood of people. 

HOMEF Director, Nnimmo Bassey in a statement on Tuesday, in Abuja to mark the 2019 World Environment Day with the theme Beat Air Pollution, urged the government to find lasting solutions to the menace of air pollution in Nigeria, especially in the Niger Delta region where extractive activities has led to various environmental challenges and health problems such as cardiovascular heart diseases, bronchitis, asthma, birth defects, skin rashes, lung cancers, amongst others.

He said air pollution is a menace to human health and livelihood

According to Nnimmo, “Air pollution is caused by various factors with a large contribution from extractive activities especially through gas flares, burning of crude oil by illegal refiners and the burning of some of these illegal refineries by security operatives. Other sources include open burning of solid wastes, decrepit automobiles, electricity generators, industries, dusts from cement factories and soot from the use of inefficient cooking stoves paired with solid fuels. 

“Almost all pollution-related deaths (92%) occur in low and middle-income countries across the world and in rapidly industrializing countries. Air pollution is linked to about 7 million premature deaths worldwide every year, including 600,000 children. Poorer countries in Africa and Asia are the worst impacted.”

Nnimmo Bassey further stated that air quality standards are not rigorously monitored and strictly enforced. 

He decried the persistence of soot in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and in Ekpan, Delta State, saying nothing is being done to halt the menace or even to warn the citizens of the grave danger they are exposed to.

He urged the government to give the issue of pollution the seriousness it deserves due to the horrendous impacts it has on the health and livelihood of people. 

HOMEF’s Project Officer on Fossil Politics Cadmus Atake-Enade, added that air pollution is a silent killer and needs to be taken seriously by all levels of government.

“Nigeria is ranked as the 10th most polluted country in the world, while Kano bursts the chart as the most polluted city in Africa. Researchers also state that ‘Nigeria has mortality rate as result of air pollution of 307.4 for every 100,000 people, and is the second worst in all of Africa’. 

More people die from air pollution in Nigeria than in South Africa, Kenya, and Angola combined.”

HOMEF believes that Nigeria will have a much more productive workforce and a healthier citizenry if governments at all levels work with the people to kick out air pollution.