Food safety has remained an important issue in developing and developed world. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports show that the illness due to contaminated food is perhaps the most widespread health problem in the contemporary world and an important cause that has reduced socio-economic productivity. Adequate and satisfactory food hygiene and safety is one of the foundations on which the people care should rest. The need to amplify the sensitization of Nigerians on food safety and hygiene against disease, death and disability arising from consumption of unwholesome foods must be taken seriously.
According to Professor Alfred Ikenkuronye, more than 200,000 persons die of food poisoning in Nigeria annually. Death due to food poisoning is caused by various ways -from food exposure to contamination in unhygienic environment. The need for avoidance of contaminated food with harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins, chemical and physical contaminants is very important. Ensuring food safety is key to preventing food-borne illnesses and other viral diseases contracted from consumption of unsafe foods.
The signs and symptoms of food-borne illness range from gastrointestinal symptoms such as stomach upset, diarrhoea, fever, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and dehydration, to more severe systemic illnesses such as paralysis and meningitis. Hence emphasizing the importance of food safety and hygiene is vital in prevention of food-borne illnesses.
Thus people living in both rural and marginalized communities need an engaging sensitization to create more awareness on food safety and hygiene. Recognition of FAO and WHO guidelines and regulation for food processing, handling and consumption are of great importance. Food safety starts from farm to the dishes. Farmers must check how they grow their food crops in the farm and avoid adulteration of food, food processors and packaging companies must ensure contamination-free process. Government should sign into law the labeling of genetically modified foods imported in the country to save consumers from risk.
Contamination can occur anywhere in the food cycle, everyone must take food safety as a matter of personal business and inclusive sensitization to reduce morbidity and mortality rate, together with the fight against COVID-19 infection. Nigerians should be aware to practice the FAO and WHO’s key principles of food hygiene which are; keep clean, separate raw and cooked food, cook thoroughly, keep food at safe temperature, use safe water and raw materials. Food safety is everyone’s business!
Godwin Adinoyi Jimoh,