Brunei must protect national food security

National 1 minute, 48 seconds


GLOBAL food developments in production, distribution and consumption, new and emerging pathogens, as well as antimicrobial resistance mean that national food security is constantly battling new threats.

The Ministry of Health (MoH), at the Belait district World Health Day 2015 Forum yesterday, said that it was well aware of the clear and present danger of food contamination posed by an increasing trend in tourism and trade.

Unsafe food has been related to some two million deaths annually, with the majority of them happening among children. Food contaminated by dangerous bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemicals have been proven to cause more than 200 diseases, including diarrhoea and cancer.

"Food safety faces many new threats such as changes in production technology, climate change, micro-organism change… All these issues… emphasise the need to strengthen the national food security system," said Dr Maimunah Hj Mokim, Senior Medical Officer, District Health Office, Belait.

MoH in statement to the press said that it would remain on constant alert, ensuring continuous monitoring to guarantee and protect public health. The Ministry recommended that Brunei adopt World Health Organization's (WHO) "from farm to plate" approach in global efforts to increase food safety.

This requires all stakeholders in the food production chain to play their roles, employing simple and practical methods described in WHO's food safety handbook Five Keys to Safer Food.

These are: keep clean, separate raw and cooked food, cook food thoroughly, keep food at safe temperatures, and use safe water and raw materials.

Four panel speakers from various health departments discussed a range of topics under the overarching theme of food safety, consistent with WHO's theme for 2015. Among the topics discussed were public food safety, food contamination by controlled products, food-related health risks and food safety from an Islamic perspective.

Some 200 people from the public and private sector, including food business owners, school food programme suppliers and canteen operators, farmers, food manufacturers and health professionals turned up for the event, participating in a question-and-answer session at the end of the presentations.

Participants also discussed food safety provisions under the Public Health Act (Food) Chapter 182.

Present as guest of honour was Belait District Officer Hj Haris Othman.

The Brunei Times