Humans must guard against animal disease risk: WHO

BEIJING – CHINA must adopt a holistic approach to addressing food safety challenges connected to the risk of contracting infectious diseases from contact with animals, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

Peter Ben Embarek, food safety officer at WHO’s China office, said the country faces risks connected to the need to produce more meat, eggs and milk to feed its growing population. He said the increased production will ramp up the risk of people being infected by food-borne diseases because of poor slaughtering oversight and the absence of proper surveillance and inspection systems.

About 50 per cent of pigs in China are slaughtered outside of formal facilities without the inspection of veterinarians or food safety officers. He said poorly trained producers have little or no awareness of food safety or the risk of animal diseases being passed on to humans.

Such an environment could lead to the emergence of a new pandemic of influenza.

During the past 60 years, 30 per cent of the 335 new infectious diseases worldwide were transmitted through food, he said.

At the gathering, representatives from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention shared experiences from efforts to mitigate the H5N1 and H1N1 influenza outbreaks in China and said they were committed to working together in the future. — CHINA DAILY/ANN

Humans must guard against animal disease risk: WHO

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