Take food poisoning cases seriously!

Regular nationwide food checks needed urgently

It is indeed depressing and saddening to read news reports about the loss of 3 lives and 60 others hospitalized due to food poisoning after they had consumed food served at a wedding kenduri last Saturday in Kedah.

The cause of the poisoning has still not been ascertained but it is believed that it was due to contamination.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta estimate that there are 76 million cases of foodborne disease in the United States each year, with 325,000 cases requiring hospitalization and 5,000 ending in death. This would mean that a quarter of the U.S. population is affected yearly.

The number of cases reported in Malaysia over the past few years (averaging around 8,000 a year) could only be the tip of the iceberg as cases of food poisoning can go unreported. Assuming that our food safety standards are no worse than the United States, it would mean that our population could well be experiencing the same fate, with a huge percentage of Malaysians (possibly up to 6 million or more) succumbing to food poisoning yearly.

The risk of food poisoning cannot be taken lightly as it can result in death. Children are even more susceptible than adults.

The Ministry of Health should immediately set up a special task force to conduct regular checks nationwide on food outlets and eateries, including school canteens, canteens in factories, eateries, food caterers and food stalls.

CAP also calls for the empowerment of additional health officers to be done as speedily as possible. Hopefully then, nationwide checks on all eateries and food outlets can be conducted regularly throughout the year without any hitches.

Press Statement, 1 October 2013