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Experts say safety essential for food security

Friday, November 10, 2017
Professor Samuel B Godefroy, left, senior food safety officer Dr Markus Lipp and Clarence Rambharat, Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries chat after the launch of Food Safety Workshop at the Hyatt Regnecy Hotel, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. PICTURE KERWIN PIERRE

Food borne diseases are a major cause of illnesses and death worldwide, with one in 49 people suffering from such diseases every year, says Dr Alexandra Vokathy, advisor on public health, Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).

Speaking at the opening ceremony of a Food Safety Risk Assessment workshop at the Hyatt Regency in Port-of-Spain, she said food borne diseases could cause serious complications which could lead to chronic health problems resulting in dire economic consequences.

Vokathy chemical and nutritional imbalances which are known or suspected to be responsible for a range of health problems including cancer, kidney and liver dysfunction, hormonal imbalance and premature births.

Markus Lipp, senior food safety officer at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Italy, said food security and good nutrition can only be achieved when the food consumed was safe. He said food borne illnesses are a leading factor for malnutrition and stunting among children.

“As every person in this world needs food—safe food and nutritious food—food trade must provide food to all,” he said. “But food trade is not only critical for food security. It also provides a livelihood and a way out for millions of people.”

Lipp said for the food trade to operate smoothly there must be “harmonised and compatible definitions.”

“We can effectively use language to exchange information; food standards are for trade what a dictionary is for language. If we all use the same standards that can be easily translated’ into each other, we can easily exchange goods and trade will flourish,” he said.

Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat said the biggest challenges for T&T are proper lab services, efficient plant quarantine and an efficient inspection regime.