Food safety is important to all countries because diseases and infections that come from the food we eat are a major cause of suffering and death throughout the world. Foodborne diseases can be defined as those conditions that are commonly transmitted through the food we eat and include a broad group of illnesses caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites and chemicals.
The 2015 World Health Day on food safety, April 7, aims to encourage governments to improve food safety through public awareness campaigns and highlights their ongoing actions. In addition, consumers will be encouraged to make sure the food on their plate is safe, such as knowing questions to ask, labels to look for and hygiene tips.
Foodborne diseases can keep people from working, be a burden on our health care system and decrease countries’ abilities to grow and prosper because of loss in confidence in tourism, food production and the marketing system. As an example, approximately one in eight Canadians experiences a case of foodborne illness each year in their own country. This means that each year there are about 4 million episodes of foodborne illness in Canada.
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For more information, email Enrique Perez Gutierrez, DVM, MSc, MPVM, PhD,
PAHO's senior advisor for foodborne diseases and zoonosis.