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UN highlights food safety on World Health Day | Updated: 2015-04-08 10:46

Marking the World Health Day, UN officials highlighted challenges of food safety worldwide, calling for joint efforts from multi-sectors to make food safe from production to food supply chain. "On World Health Day, let us all ask: how safe is our food?" said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message on the day, noting that unsafe food is a largely under-reported and often over- looked global problem.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), unsafe food can cause more than 200 diseases - ranging from diarrhea to cancers, and meanwhile poses major economic risks against farmers and the food industry.

"Changes to the way food is produced, distributed and consumed, the emergence of resistant bacteria, and increases in travel and trade make it difficult to manage pathogens and contaminants once they are in our food supply," Ban explained.

He also noted that with the food supply chain stretching around the world, the need to strengthen food safety systems within and among countries is becoming more critical.

Echoing this point, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said food is more likely to be contaminated with harmful, bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemicals because of industrialized food production and globalized trade and distribution.

What's more, "a local food safety problem can rapidly become an international emergency," she added.

In this regard, Jacob Kumaresan, executive director of WHO Office in New York, told reporters in a news briefing here that WHO is calling for a sustainable response to the core problems of food safety, mainly to address across the food chain -- from primary producer to food processor and finally to consumer.

This requires governments to integrate food safety in a broader food policy to have comprehensive food safety strategies which are matched by legislation, said Kumaresan.

He also pointed out there is a need to foster a multi-sector of collaboration among the sectors of health, agriculture, trade, environment as well as tourism to guarantee that food is produced and delivered in a safe manner.

World Health Day is celebrated on April 7 every year to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization ( WHO) in 1948. This year, the WHO highlighted the challenges related to food safety under the slogan "From farm to plate, make food safe," trying to raise the awareness on this issue around the world.

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