ADDIS ABABA, June 7 (Xinhua) -- The African Union (AU) on Friday urged the need to exert concerted efforts so as to combat the increasing burden of unsafe-foods on Africa's populace.
The 55-member pan African bloc made the urgent call on Friday amid the World Food Safety Day celebrations, which was commemorated at the headquarters of the AU in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.
Noting that an estimated 600 million cases of food-borne illnesses are recorded annually and 3 million people die every year from food and waterborne diseases globally, the AU stressed that the African continent has faced the highest brunt of healthcare challenges that are attributed to unsafe foods.
"The burden of unsafe foods is most felt in Africa," the AU said, adding "Food safety has a critical role in ensuring that food stays safe at every stage of the food chain."
According to the AU, the African continent represent one-third of the global death toll due to food-borne diseases. "This is despite the continent accounts for only 16 percent of the global population."
The UN General Assembly, noting the urgent need to raise awareness at all levels and to promote as well as facilitate actions for global food safety, in December last year had decided to designate June 7 as the World Food Safety Day.
"The day has become more important to the African Union, because participants of the First FAO/WHO/AU International Conference on Food Safety in Addis Ababa highlighted the integral role of food safety in achieving the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the AU Agenda 2063," the AU said in a statement on Friday.
According to the AU, the World Food Safety Day is marked to bring to the attention of Africans the dangers of unsafe food to the continent's population and also "bring to the spotlight, how to help prevent and manage food-borne risks."
The celebration of the World Food Safety Day is in the spirit of promoting the ideals of food safety as espoused by the UN General Assembly, it was noted.