Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Sylvia Masebo calls for safer food handling to prevent illnesses, fatalities and costs on the health care system

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Minister of Health Sylvia Masebo has called for safer food handling in order to prevent illnesses, fatalities and reduce costs on the health care system.

When launching the Fifth World Food Safety Day on television, Ms. Masebo said food safety is essential in protecting individuals from bacteria, parasites and contaminants.

The United Nations General Assembly in 2018 December adopted and designated 7th June every year as World Food Safety day in order to strengthen food safety measures globally.

Ms. Masebo said food safety standards ensure protection of the lives of everyone as they establish the criteria which food should meet to protect consumers and establish confidence in the product.

“Food safety is essential in protecting individuals from bacteria, parasites, contaminants such as heavy metals and residues of pesticides and veterinary drugs that can be passed through food consumption. By practicing safe food handling, these food hazards can prevent illnesses and fatalities and reduce costs on the health care system. Food safety is an essential part of food security and it is only safe food that can meet nutritional needs and help adults to live an active and healthy life and children to grow and develop. Therefore, Food safety has a direct impact on health as Safe food allows for the uptake of nutrients, promotes long-term human development and achievement of several of the Sustainable Development Goals,” Ms. Masebo said.

“Although Zambia has had challenges to quantify the burden of foodborne illnesses, studies indicate that most diarrheal cases are strongly associated with food contamination and food poisoning. In 2018, 933 cases with four (4) deaths were recoded because of food poisoning and it is hence imperative that the government enforces safe food standards from the farm to the table.Food safety standards ensure protection of the lives of everyone as they establish the criteria which food should meet to protect consumers and establish confidence in the product. The Codex Alimentarius Commission, to which Zambia is a member since 1971, has been setting international food standards for 60 years. The Codex Alimentarius has 236 standards, 84 guidelines, 56 codes of practice, 126 maximum levels for contaminants in food, and over 10 000 quantitative standards covering maximum levels for food additives and maximum residue limits for pesticides and veterinary drugs in food. Adoption of these standards and guidelines into national legislation ensures reduction of food hazards and protection of the consumers from ill health associated with consumption of unsafe food,” she said.

Ms. Masebo said health risks associated with veterinary drug residues have been a source of concern due to antimicrobial resistance in humans.

Ms. Masebo continued:” It is therefore the duty of the Government to help protect the livelihoods of food traders by establishing a robust food control system and rigorous export and import controls. Food standards also protect consumers by making sure that the food they consume is safer and contributes to consumer confidence in the products.The Government under the leadership of His Excellency, Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, President of Republic of Zambia has put up robust measures to improve food safety.Following the enactment of the Food Safety Act No.7 of 2019, the Ministry has commenced development of science driven Food Safety regulations and reviewing the Food and Drugs Regulations, which are anchored on the repealed Food and Drugs Act Chapter 303. The Ministry is also in its final stage of appointing the members of the Food Safety Coordinating Committee in order to strengthen stakeholder coordination in the food value chain.”

Ms. Masebo added that the fifth World Food Safety Day is meant to draw attention and inspire action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks.

“The Ministry in collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry and with support from the European Union Development Fund Round 11 has developed and finalized the Food Safety inspection manual for Border Posts and currently commenced development of the Food Safety sampling plans, which are currently in their draft phase awaiting finalization. Further, more Environmental Health Staff were recruited during the recruitment of 11,000 Health workers to facilitate Legal Enforcement and compliance to food standards.The fifth World Food Safety Day is meant to draw attention and inspire action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks, contributing to food security, human health, economic prosperity, agricultural production, market access, tourism and sustainable development. As the country moves to sustainable agriculture and increased food security, allow me to emphasise that Food security is achieved when all citizens have physical and economical access to food that meets their dietary needs for an active and healthy life. If it is not safe, it is not Food and there is no Food Security without Food Safety,” she said

“As I conclude, allow me to make the following Call to action. Policy makers 1 Make safe food an easy choice by shaping public support Programmes, such as food aid, school feeding and other publicly owned food outlets.2. Focus on establishing robust national food safety system and ensure it complies with food safety standards.Encourage and engage in multisectoral collaboration at the local, national, regional and global levels.Food businesses.Engage employees, suppliers and other stakeholders to grow and develop a food safety culture. Comply with national and international food standards.Educational institutions and workplaces.Promote safe food handling.Engage with families and involve them in food safety activities for Support food safety education.Consumers Practice safe food handling at home and follow WHO’s Five Keys to Safer Food keep clean separate raw and cooked foods. cook thoroughly keep food at safe temperatures, and use safe water and raw materials,” Ms. Masebo concluded.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Sick woman. People can’t afford food so how can they even eat unsafe food? Fuseke. Concentrate on medicine shortages iwe

  2. the only one sick is you… all can afford food of some sort and if they cant our extended family culture will assist in that
    anyway who got us to this position in the first place
    10 years of PF ,,, and you expect it to be rectfied in 2 yrs ???
    only your half brain can imagine that

  3. Masebo food safety is out of your league. What you need to focus on is the shortage of medicine in hospitals. Zambians have developed their own food safety strategies and they do not need WHO on this matter. This is the problem with this government when people are complaining on high cost of living someone comes up with graphs.

  4. The food and safety shenanigans will only be eradicated if only you educate street food vendors and other food outlets, and saying so, they have to be some sort of law and heft penalties for food handler outlets suspected to cause food poisoning to the members of the public. by the way, this should also apply to liquor outlets.

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