South Africa: UP Expert On What You Need to Know About Food-Borne Risks

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Unsafe food that contains harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances causes more than 200 diseases, which is why it is vital that consumers familiarise themselves with the risks that can arise from what they eat, says Professor Elna Buys, Head of the Department of Consumer and Food Sciences at the University of Pretoria (UP).

Every year, an estimated 600 million people (almost one in 10 globally) fall ill after eating contaminated food and about 420 000 die, explains Prof Buys. Also, about US$110 billion is lost each year in productivity and medical expenses in low- and middle-income countries as a result of unsafe food.

"Food safety, nutrition and food security are linked," says Prof Buys. "The cycle of disease and malnutrition is enhanced by unsafe food, and affects infants, young children, the elderly and the sick in particular. Food-borne diseases also impede socioeconomic development by straining healthcare systems and affecting economies, tourism and trade. Food supply chains now cross national borders, and we ensure food safety through collaboration among governments, producers and consumers."

Food safety is of particular concern in developing countries, not only because of the high prevalence of food-borne illness and other hazards associated with food, but...

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