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FAO, WHO urge countries to be more vigilant about food safety
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09:31, July 20, 2007

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The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday urged all countries to strengthen their food safety systems and to be far more vigilant with food producers and traders.

Recent food safety incidents, like the discovery of the industrial chemical melamine in animal and fish feed, or the unauthorized use of certain veterinary drugs in intense aquaculture, can affect health and often lead to rejections of food products in international trade, said the two UN agencies in a joint statement.

During the last 12 months, an average of up to 200 food safety incidents per month have been investigated by WHO and FAO to determine their public health impact, the statement said.

"Food safety is an issue for every country and ultimately every food consumer. All countries can benefit from taking stronger measures to fill safety gaps in the sometimes considerable journey food takes from the farm to the table," said Dr Jorgen Schlundt, director of WHO's department of food safety, in the statement.

"Countries are only able to keep their shares in globalized food markets and the trust of consumers if they apply internationally agreed food quality and safety standards," said Ezzeddine Boutrif, head of FAO's nutrition and consumer protection division.

According to the two agencies, food production systems in developing countries are facing a series of challenges: population growth and urbanization, changing dietary patterns, intensification and industrialization of food and agricultural production.

Besides, food safety legislation in many developing countries is often incomplete or obsolete or not in line with international requirements.

Many developed countries also face situations with fragmented food safety systems that often do not include or cover primary production where many food safety issues originate.

For example the spread in recent years of new Salmonella strains in poultry originated in developed countries and was spread globally through trade.

In order to ensure safe food production for their own consumers and to meet international sanitary and phytosanitary requirements for food exports, national food safety authorities should be more vigilant, the statement said.

Producers and traders should be held accountable for safe food production throughout the food chain, it added.

Source: Xinhua



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