Home » Health » ’Food Contamination Responsible for Over 200 Diseases’

Food contamination is responsible for over 200 diseases, among them diarrhoeal and cancers, Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa has said.

In a speech read on his behalf by Health Services Board chairperson Dr Lovemore Mbengeranwa at this year’s World Health Day commemorations at Mazowe Prison Farm yesterday, Dr Parirenyatwa said contamination was caused by improper food handling or chemical substances, particularly in genetically-modified organisms.

“Unsafe food — containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances — causes more than 200 diseases ranging from diarrhoea to cancers,” Dr Parirenyatwa said.

He said manufacturers, distributors and consumers should be aware of food contamination at all levels to reduce related diseases and deaths.

“Food safety, nutrition and food security are inextricably linked. Unsafe food creates a vicious cycle of diseases and malnutrition particularly affecting infants, young children, the elderly and the sick,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.

He said consumers should always take precautionary measures before buying or taking any foods. The measures range from one knowing the foods they are taking, reading labels on any food items carefully to basic hygiene practices when handling food.

“Access to sufficient amount of food and nutritious food is key to sustaining lives and promoting good health,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.

According to the World Health Organisation, foodborne and waterborne diarrhoeal diseases account for an estimated two million deaths annually, with children and the elderly being the most vulnerable.

Addressing the same gathering, WHO country representative Dr David Okello, spelt out the five keys to safer food as: Keeping food clean, separating raw from cooked food, cooking food thoroughly, keeping food at safe temperatures and using safe water and raw materials.

“The WHO is encouraging countries to prevent, detect and respond to foodborne disease outbreaks in line with the international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice covering all the main foods,” said Dr Okello.

Food and Agricultural Organisation subregional co-ordinator, Mr David Phiri, said his organisation was committed to working with Government to ensure safe and adequate food provision.

Mr Phiri said issues of food and nutrition should be a priority of the Government of Zimbabwe as they had an impact on socio- and economic status of the country.

Source : The Herald