If it is not safe, it is not food!

FAO Representative to Tanzania, Dr Nyabenyi Tipo. PHOTO | WILLIAM MGOBELA.

*By Dr. Nyabenyi Tipo

Dying from eating unhealthy food is an option; however, death is a natural cause.

To live healthy and possibly a longer life, eating foods that are rich in nutrients, properly harvested, handled and cooked, should be part of our daily lives.

Unsafe food, which contains harmful parasites, bacteria, viruses or chemical substances, is causative agent of more than 200 diseases ranging from diarrhea to cancer.

Still today, nearly one in ten people in the world becomes ill after eating contaminated food.

Every year, an estimated 700,000 people die worldwide from antimicrobial resistant infections spread through the food chain, via a direct contact between animals and humans or through the environment.

The fourth World Food Safety Day (WFSD) theme is “Safer Food, Better Health,” which invites us to recognize that food safety is critical for the health and well-being of people, animals and the environment.

Despite the Government’s number of key players' efforts to entrench agri-food and health systems, foodborne diseases remain a vexed question across the world.

Preventive measurements, fortunately, are very simple and may be applied by anyone, anywhere, at every stage of the supply chain by adhering to simple food handling and hygiene rules.

Unsafe food contribute to poor health conditions like impaired growth and development, micro-nutrient deficiencies, Non- Communicable or Communicable Diseases, and mental illness.

Addressing agri-food systems challenges and supporting the new coalition aimed at emphasizing food safety is an essential component for living a healthy life.

The Government, through the European Union (EU) funded programme titled ‘’AGRI CONNECT” launched a National Nutrition campaign in Zanzibar and Mainland, under the Lishe Bora ni Mtaji (Good Nutrition is an Investment) slogan.

Other notable objectives include promoting consumption of healthy diets and addressing the burden of unsafe foods.

Safe and nutritious food, as well as their benefits for child growth and development, contribute to improving intellectual and physical potential, as well as increasing school performance and work productivity in adulthood.

Through funding from the Government of Norway the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with the Small Industries Development Organization (SIDO), trained about 530 Street Food Vendors (SFVs), 203 from Ilala and 327 from Dodoma region on consuming nutritious meals based on the healthy plate model, meal planning, business management and food safety and hygiene practices.

Furthermore, the project develops ten improved food outlets and distributes 1,050 kitchen kits (cooks apron and kitchen utensils) to 500 street food vendors in order to improve the safety of street foods.

We need to continue with our efforts to ensure that this trend continues, and we invite everyone to join us in this campaign because it is everyone's concern.

Food safety is in everybody’s hands, whether you grow, process, transport, store, sell, buy, prepare or serve food.

 The Author is the FAO Representative to Tanzania.