New Delhi: The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday urged each nation in the South-East Asia region to make food safety a priority.
It stated that over 700,000 children die in the South-East Asia region every year due to diarrhoea and several other diseases caused by the impure food and water.
"Bacteria, viruses, parasites, chemicals, and other contaminants in our food can cause over 200 diseases ranging from diarrhoea to cancer. New and emerging threats such as climate change and its impact on food production; emerging biological and environmental contamination -- all Apose challenges to the safety of our food," said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director, WHO South-East Asia in a statement.
She said the countries must put in place comprehensive food safety policies and stringently implement it across the food chain.
Food safety has been set as the theme for the upcoming World Health Day.
Khetrapal said food safety is one of the key focus areas under the International Health Regulations -- IHR 2005 -- which includes events of all public health emergencies of international concern that involve contaminated food and outbreaks of food borne diseases.
She informed that the WHO and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have established the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) to rapidly share information during food safety emergencies.
"WHO supports countries to prevent, detect and respond to food borne disease outbreaks using the Codex Alimentarius, a collection of international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice.
"Codex provisions concern the hygienic and nutritional quality of food, including microbiological norms, food additives, pesticides and veterinary drug residues, contaminants, labelling and presentation, and methods of sampling and risk analysis -- covering all the main foods and processes," she said.