World Food Safety Day 2020: COVID-19 offers an opportunity for India’s food systems to deliver on safety and health

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The second annual World Food Safety Day (June 7)—with the theme “food safety, everyone’s business”—promotes global awareness and action on this key issue. Given its large and diverse population and present level of economic development, India can to reap significant public health and economic benefits from a sustained effort to combat the problem of unsafe food.

Though evidence on the extent and burden of foodborne diseases (FBDs) in low income countries is still limited, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the global burden of FBDs is comparable to that of malaria, HIV/AIDS, or tuberculosis. Low and middle income countries account for 98% of the global FBD burden; Africa has the highest per capita burden and Asia has the highest total burden.

In India, food systems are changing rapidly in ways that offer new avenues for FBDs. The consumption of animal sourced foods, which are high in nutrients but also carry disease risks, is rising. There is a culture of eating out, with street food vendors proliferating, yet little in the way of effective food safety regulation.

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