The rate of food-borne disease is rising due to contamination by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemicals. Food safety is an occupational health risk.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said unsafe food causes more than 200 diseases, ranging from diarrhoea to cancer and meningitis.
Foodborne and waterborne diarrhoeal diseases kill about two million people every year. Some get it at work.
See more detailed reports on the ISO 22000 food safety standard, and the older Hazards and Critical Control Points (HACCP) checklist, in these posts;
Unsafe food often involves animal products such as meat and milk, fruit, vegetables, and shellfish.
Erica Penfold of SAIIA wrote that diabetes increases the occupational health risk of unsafe and unhealthy food at work.
Unhealthy populations place strain on health systems, which, in most developing nations in Southern Africa, are already constrained by high levels of HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria.
Food safety factors
Poor hygiene is found at workplaces with poor management systems, long distances, poor facilities, poor housekeeping, poor contract management, poor sanitation, poor old water supply system, airborne dust or fumes, poor medical and clinic services, or disrupted electricity supply.
Overuse of antimicrobials such as antibiotics in agriculture and health care, essential to treating bacterial infections, has resulted in the spread of resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance, highlighted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as one of the greatest global threats to health in 2015.
Food safety and health security fall under the definition of human security, which has two major aspects: safety from chronic threats, including hunger, disease and repression; and protection from ‘sudden and hurtful disruptions in the patterns of daily life … ‘ which include economic, food, health, environmental, personal, community and political security, as defined by the United Nations Development Programme.
The prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) relating to food safety also places pressure on health systems to address diseases.
This is in spite of limited funding for disease control in Africa, with donor preference for funding 90% of communicable and infectious diseases.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC), as part of its regional integration process, has a responsibility to ensure that, as part of the SADC Multi-Country Agricultural Productivity Programme (MAPP), the region focuses on increasing its agricultural capacity, decreasing reliance on food exports and food aid, and to ensure that the SADC region has adequate technological capacity, development and dissemination to ensure sustainable food production for the future.
Despite support from the WHO to ensure adequate levels of food safety and security, it is imperative that regional governments step up and start playing a role in regional food distribution, safety and health governance.
• Erica Penfold is the researcher and project coordinator of the Poverty Reduction and Regional Integration project at SAIIA.
• Sources; Allafrica.com. WHO. SAIIA.
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