According to the World Health Organization (WHO), foodborne disease affects 600 million people and cause more than 420,000 deaths each year worldwide.
Not surprisingly, children take the brunt, both in terms of mortality and developmental delay, which affects nearly 150 million children under the age of five and is often caused by dangerous microbes or parasites that invade their meals.
Last year, for example, a lethal outbreak of listeria was responsible for more than 180 deaths in South Africa; Almost half of the dead were small children.
The contamination was generated in a processing plant that exported food to 15 countries.
The cost of unhealthy food goes far beyond human suffering
Contaminated food hinders socioeconomic development, it supposes an unnecessary load for the sanitary systems and damages economies, commerce and tourism.
States that are unable to meet international safety standards lose economic opportunities in the world market while facing the continuous outbreak of disease.
The impact of harmful food costs the low and middle-income economies around 84 billion euros per year in lost productivity.
The growing globalization of the food chain means that the risks of unhealthy food can quickly change from being a local problem to an international emergency, exposing the world population to serious threats.
Many developing countries import a large part of their food supply, and some – like the Pacific Islands – depend almost entirely on the importation of food to ensure their food security.
That is why it is absolutely essential that countries invest in food safety. While many have sophisticated systems, it is not so for everyone.
Given the rapid evolution of science, technology and communication today, as well as changes in agriculture, the environment and the attitude of consumers, authorities around the world should be attentive, share information and resources, and find ways to ensure that all parties involved contribute to positive results.
Unfortunately, foodborne diseases are particularly susceptible to spread through those with strong nutritional qualities – such as fiber-rich ingredients in salads, for example – and widespread fear can result in increased consumption of ultra-processed food.
Consuming highly processed food, in turn, worsens the growing problem of obesity that we see all over the world and that has a huge toll on people’s health and lives.
Bad land and water management also undermine the safety of food. For example, the risk of aflatoxins, a genotoxic carcinogen found in staple foods in tropical areas where hunger rates tend to be high, will spread in areas where sanitation is poor.
Mitigating this risk is crucial, especially for the most vulnerable rural communities. Those contaminated with antimicrobial-resistant organisms can also be a source of vulnerability for humans.
There is a lot at stake, and there is no alternative to investing intelligently and solidly in this area.
In 2019, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) co-organizes two large international conferences to discuss the future of food safety. The first is held in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), in collaboration with the WHO and the African Union.
The event highlights the importance of food safety to fight against all forms of malnutrition and promote sustainable development.
The second event, which FAO is organizing with the WHO and the World Trade Organisation (WTO), will take place in Geneva in April and will address the importance of strengthening food safety standards to promote international trade.
These type of events rarely result in safer measures to protect human health. What they actually end providing is a larger global bureaucracy, where unelected officials, who are bought and paid for by the giant food industry, come up with policy that favors, you guessed it, the food industry.
FAO works on several fronts to allegedly promote food safety. One of the most important is the Joint FAO / WHO Food Standards Program launched by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, an intergovernmental power grab attempt to determine what people are allowed to eat. Its standards are published in the Codex Alimentarius, a document that was unmasked as a corporate power grab of food safety and nutritional standards.
This food code covers the entire production chain and allows governments, at the behest of multinational corporations, to establish internationally acceptable scientific standards and criteria to supposedly ensure food safety and harmonize food trade.
Codex Alimentarius is recognized by the WTO as the benchmark for national food safety regulations and as the basis for international food trade. However, none of its regulations has been able to prevent disease outbreaks from food insecurity, because they do not address the main cause of food born disease.
FAO also supports governments in drafting or amending legislation related to food safety and quality, as well as providing assistance through legal and institutional assessments, supporting legal reform processes and promoting the formation and development of the capacity of lawyers and regulators.
Perhaps the procedure to draw up real reform in food production is what prevents these globalist organizations from creating food security. It is a group of lawyers and corporate servants who sit around a table to come up with rules and regulations that benefit the corporations involved in planting, harvesting and processing food.
Food safety requires a participatory approach. From production to consumption, safeguarding our food is a shared responsibility and we must all do our part. However, the process completely ignores the viewpoints from consumers, who are the ones that bear the consequences of disease outbreaks that can be avoided.
Not one of these globalist organizations is in a position to determine what is safe for consumers to eat, or what industrial processes are beneficial for proper nutrition because they are political entities, not scientific organizations.