Out of the many factors affecting a healthy nutrition, food safety is in the spotlight at this year’s world health day being celebrated on April 7th, 2015. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 200 diseases are caused by unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses and chemical substances, and it is estimated that two million deaths occur every year from contaminated food or drinking water.1
Keeping food safe is in the interest of all of us, and has to be a shared responsibility between governments, industry, producers, academia, and consumers.
Regulations such as the Food Safety Modernization Act or the EU regulation about food declaration for example now require companies involved in the production, processing and transportation of food to allow for traceability of products along the food supply chain from producer to distributor. As a result, foodborne disease outbreaks can be investigated and products can be recalled quickly in case of emergency.
SAP-sponsored research by the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario (BIO) aims at fighting fraud in the food industry by identifying contaminated and mislabeled products with the help of genetic testing. Using BIO’s research and technology, the State of New York recently ordered four major national retailers to remove top-selling store-brand herbal products from their shelves, saying that the products contained substituted and potentially dangerous substances.2
Technology can help tackle many of the challenges posed by a globalized system of food production and trade. Education about safe food handling behaviors to each individual involved in food handling, including end-consumers, is just as important. Initiatives such as the Global Food Safety Partnership are addressing this issue by providing food safety training and technical support so developing countries can improve their food safety systems and benefit from better compliance with food safety standards.
Engaging in research serving our planet and its population, as well as partnering with global and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) is part of SAP’s strategic approach to corporate social responsibility, and together with developing technology solutions that can help our customers become best-run businesses, are important steps towards SAP’s vision is to help the world run better and improve people’s lives.
Knowing there are mechanisms and means evolving that provide visibility and control over the food supply chain gives me better confidence in what I am consuming is actually the healthy food I presume it to be.
Happy World Health Day!