WHO stresses need for improved food safety in Iraq

Two weeks after celebrating the first annual World Food Safety Day, two UN agencies on Saturday publicly renewed an earlier commitment to ensuring all citizens of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region have access to safe, nutritious food by 2030.
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ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Two weeks after celebrating the first annual World Food Safety Day, two UN agencies on Saturday publicly renewed an earlier commitment to ensuring all citizens of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region have access to safe, nutritious food by 2030.

"Unsafe food poses global health threats, endangering everyone. Infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with an underlying illness are particularly vulnerable," read a UN statement.

In Iraq, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) "are working alongside the government to assess functional gaps, and needs for food quality control improvements in the country."

In January, a mission of international experts organized by the WHO visited Iraq to assess the current state of food safety in the nation in response to an official request from the Iraqi Ministry of Health and Environment.

Related Article: WHO, Iraq work to improve nation's poor food safety

While touring laboratories of various public institutions and health facilities, the experts met with a wide range of officials and "assessed the work done in terms of food safety analysis and assessment, lab tests, sampling as well clearance of tested items."

In May, local authorities in the autonomous Kurdistan Region confiscated 110 tons of expired food items during the first 15 days of the holy month of Ramadan.

Related Article: Authorities seize 110 tons of expired food items, products in Kurdistan during Ramadan

In Erbil alone, the joint committee of police and medics confiscated over 70 tons of expired products, mostly perishables like dates and sweets which are commonly eaten during Ramadan to break the fast or celebrate Iftar.

The WHO, having finished the assessment it began in January, said in Saturday's statement that both it and the FAO pledge "that all the people enjoy safe food at every stage of the food chain from production to harvest, processing, storage, distribution, all the way to preparation and consumption."