UN launches food safety campaign

PARIS – The United Nations has launched a food safety campaign for an era in which millions are dying of hunger or tainted produce even as more and more people fall ill from eating too much.

“Food safety, quality and quantity must go together,” Margaret Chan, director general of the UN World Health Organization (WHO), said in Paris as she launched World Health Day 2015 on Tuesday under the theme: “From farm to plate, make food safe.”

The WHO says about two million die every year of food-borne and water-borne diseases.

Food can be contaminated by viruses, bacteria, parasites or chemicals, sometimes from polluted water. Tainted food causes more than 200 diseases ranging in severity from diarrhoea to cancers.

According to initial figures from a WHO report set to be released later this year, some 582 million people suffered from 22 different food-borne diseases in 2010, and 351,000 people died. About 40 per cent of people who fell ill were children under five, and poor countries, particularly in Africa, were hardest hit.

Unsafe food also posed major economic risks, said a WHO statement.

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