Food-Borne illness a challenge to healthcare

April 10 – Food-borne illnesses mount considerable pressure on healthcare system and they are one of the major causes of cancer around the world, said experts at a conference on Monday.
One out of six deaths in the world are due to cancer, it was learnt.
By 2030, there will be 21 million deaths annually due to this illness as against 14 million at present.
The financial drain on developing countries will be $500 billion by 2030 as against the existing $290 billion.
Experts speaking at Food Safety and Municipal Work Conference 2018, organised by Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources in cooperation with Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) and authorities concerned, said 30-40 per cent of cancer cases can be prevented.
The opening of the conference was presided over by His Highness Sayyid Taymour bin Asaad al Said.
It was attended by ministers, members of the State Council, under-secretaries and those concerned with the food and municipal affairs.
In 2035, there will be around 600 million diabetic patients worldwide, leading to a financial drain of around $627 billion, said the experts.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), 600 million people, including 125 million children under the age of five years, are affected by contaminated food.
It results in 420,000 deaths. “We will have to look at food-borne illnesses in the long term. Illnesses can be linked to the constant contact of the food with plastic used for packaging or the increasing use of pesticides,” a food safety expert from Jordan said.
One of the main causes include bacteria or toxins produced by viruses, parasites and chemicals.
The risk increases in low and middle income countries due to the use of unsafe water in food preparation and low level of hygiene.
Food contamination can cause serious diseases, including diarrhoea, typhoid fever, hepatitis and fungal toxins, according to studies.
Oman has approved the setting up of a Centre for Food Safety in the Sultanate, while The Research Council (TRC) is working on a strategic programme in terms of studying food patterns and food databases.
According to Dr Ahmed Ali Alawi, associate professor and head of food sciences and nutrition department, Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), as nearly 56 per cent of food consumed in Oman is imported, it is of national importance to ensure food is safe for consumption.
He also pointed at the risks resulting from the use of packaging materials.
“In the United States, one-third of materials used in fast-food packaging is unsafe. Antibiotics are used by livestock breeders who do not have sufficient knowledge about the extent of the damage it can cause, including emergence of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.”
The conference was accompanied by a special exhibition of government bodies concerned with the safety and quality of food and companies and institutions in the private sector working and displaying scientific posters specialised in the field of food safety.