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.
Cases of infection by the deadly E coli bacterium have continued to spread around the world from its source in northern Germany, reaching a dozen countries by Friday evening as the German chancellor and Spanish prime minister moved to calm a diplomatic row over the source of the infection.
The Czech Republic and the US have joined the list of those dealing with cases amid concern that some of those infected had not visited Germany and so must have been infected elsewhere.
Angela Merkel has said she would push for EU help for farmers in Spain – whose cucumbers were wrongly blamed by German authorities for the outbreak.
Germany reported a further 200 cases diagnosed on the first two days of the month as the total number of people infected worldwide rose above 1,800. The total number of reported deaths in Germany is 19. Just 11 cases have been confirmed in England.
“All these cases except two are in people who reside in or had recently visited northern Germany during the incubation period for the infection … or, in one case, had contact with a visitor from northern Germany,” said the World Health Organisation in a statement.
The spread of cases in Germany has begun to slow, however, raising hopes that the outbreak might be controlled as Germans heed warnings to wash and prepare vegetables carefully and avoid raw cucumber, tomatoes and lettuce.