Montenegro observes World Health Day by raising awareness on food safety

Vesna Nikaljevic

Out of 10 040 food samples analysed in Montenegro in 2014, around 11.5% were bad. Preliminary data from 2014 from the Montenegrin Centre for Control and Prevention of Diseases revealed 765 cases of contagious intestinal diseases that may be linked to consumption of food containing microbiological agents. This information was conveyed at a press conference for World Health Day that focuses on food safety in Montenegro.

The Director of the Institute of Public Health, Dr Boban Mugosa, spoke at the conference and highlighted that healthy, safe and quality food in appropriate quantities is the foundation for sustaining life and preserving health.

"The total number of registered salmonellosis in 2014 was 220; there were 29 cases of alimentary toxinfections, 41 of alimentary intoxication and 475 cases of gastroenterocolitis," he said. The use of unsafe food leads to outbreaks of food poisoning with shorter- or longer-term effects. "Illnesses linked to improper diet are directly or indirectly related to illnesses, which are a leading cause of death, like blood-related and blood vessel illnesses and diabetes," warned Dr Mugosa.

Food production has been industrialized, and globalized trade and distribution offers the possibility for bad food to be distributed to the farthest corners of the world, and for the food to become contaminated in transport. "A local food safety problem can easily grow beyond national borders to become a big international problem calling for urgent attention," he concluded.

World Health Day 2015 focuses on food safety, and aims to raise public awareness on the importance of all those involved in the food production process, and the need to further strengthen cooperation and improve cross-sectoral coordination. Ms Mina Brajovic, Head of the WHO Country Office in Montenegro, pointed out that healthy, safe food is a presupposition of not only good health, but also the growth of national economy, trade, tourism and sustainable development. She added that foodborne diseases are a major cause of illness and death in the world.

"All outbreaks of foodborne diseases, recorded so far, point to the fact that these diseases create barriers to socioeconomic development as they have a negative influence on health, and economically affect individuals, their families and in general, society. Moreover, they place a significant burden on the health system, trade and tourism, and substantially lower economic productivity," Ms Brajovic emphasized.

Factors adding to the magnitude of this problem are numerous and include the ageing of population, migration, urbanization, climate change, changes in lifestyle and ways of living, and a changed epidemiological picture. She underlined that all are exposed to risk since the need for food is a basic human need.

Government, food producers and consumers all have a role to play, she stressed. Only joint responsible action will ensure a safe food production chain from farm to table, which ultimately improves the population's health and quality of life.