Hidden dangers in imported food products that have replaced traditional diets.
Comparatively recently the Solomon Islands Prime Minister, the Hon. Manasseh Sogavare. said non-communicable disease (NCD’s) was the most urgent development challenge facing the country.
Mr. Sogavare told a roundtable meeting on NCDs in Honiara that NCD’s were killing thousands of people around the Pacific every year, in numbers that far outweighed those killed by climate change
“Global projections are for NCDs to cause nearly five times as many deaths as communicable diseases by 2030”, he said.
“By 2050 Solomon Islands could have 216,000 people with diabetes, costing the country $US60 million dollars annually”, the PM added.
“But if the incidence of diabetes was reduced by 1.5 percent each year until 2050, the estimated cost of managing diabetes in the country would be more like $US14 million”, he said.
Similar words were expressed earlier on by Dr Jason Diau, the Chief Executive Officer of the Atoi Adventists Hospital, who was quoted as having said non-communicable disease is a heavy burden on the health status of the country’s population. He went on to add that the issue needs to be seriously considered and quickly addressed with a timely data base detection and a comprehensive treatment plan to prevent premature deaths from NCD’s.
Across the whole Pacific region NCD, principally cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases, have become the leading cause of premature death and disability.
In 2011 Pacific Islands Forum leaders and ministers of health declared the Pacific region to be in “a human, social and economic crisis” due to the significant and growing burden of NCDs
The prevalence of NCD risk factors (high obesity, tobacco use, alcohol abuse, elevated fasting blood glucose and hypertension) and the ensuing social and economic impact of premature mortality, morbidity, lost productivity, and escalating health care expenditure poses one of the biggest threats to development across the region.
NCD’s are exacerbated by moving away from rational diets and consuming imported food products and drinks container too much sugar, and too much fat in the case of imported food products, including dairy produce.
In relation to the growing prevalence of turning to imported food products by the people of Solomon Islands, I have to reveal news which warns of additional risks to health from such imports
According to Janelle Ward, writing in Your Life Choices, and quoting from the ‘Daily News,’ she described what she said was “Undeclared life-threatening ingredients in imported products, “found in Australia.
Quoting her comments, she said:
“Potentially deadly undeclared substances were found in almost half of the imported food products bought and tested by researchers from James Cook University (JCU) as part of a study into food safety.
“The allergans were in 50 packaged food items sourced from Asian grocery stores in Melbourne. They included egg, gluten, milk and peanut, some in very high concentrations, according to a study published in the Food Additives & Contaminants journal.
Forty-six per cent of the products analysed contained ingredients not listed on the labels and 18 per cent of the products contained more than one undeclared allergen.
“Products from China contained the highest number of detectable, undeclared allergens,
“Study lead Andreas Lopata, head of JCU’s molecular allergy research laboratory, said that while Australia has strict food labelling laws, standards were more lax in Asian countries.
“That’s of concern, with Australian imports from ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries increasing from 18 to 23 per cent from 2002 to 2012, and the food trade from Asia to Australia continuing to increase by about 2.5 per cent each year,” he said.
“Food Standards Australia New Zealand says that most food allergies are caused by peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, sesame seeds, fish and shellfish, soy, lupin and wheat.
“These must be declared whenever they are present in food as ingredients (or as components of food additives or processing aids), however small the amounts present.
“Some foods and food ingredients or their components can cause severe allergic reactions including anaphylaxis.”
“Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia says that food allergies in Australia are estimated to affect one to two per cent of adults and four to eight per cent of children under five. Recent data indicates that 10 per cent of children aged under one have a proven food allergy.
Between 2005 and 2012, hospital admissions for food-induced acute allergic reactions spiked by 150 per cent.
“The New Daily reports that the number of food products recalled due to allergens not being identified on the label has been steadily increasing over the past decade.
Of the 100 food recalls in 2018, 46 cases were for undeclared allergens and 20 were due to ‘microbial contamination’ caused by potentially life-threatening bugs such as listeria, salmonella and E. coli.
“Prof. Lopata says: “With the increasing number of food recalls and anaphylaxis recorded in Australia, it’s very important that further action continues in the area of food allergen labelling for the protection of allergic consumers here.”
“Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia chief executive Maria Said says that her organisation has been telling [allergy sufferers] to be cautious of foods imported from Asian countries for many years.
“When you look at the number of food recalls, and how many involve imported foods, it’s concerning.
“If you’re going to use an imported food …do due diligence and try to find out how it’s made.”
“Ms Said says the JCU research reinforced the message that people must be cautious.
“Foods imported from Asian countries, where many people don’t understand Australian labelling regulation, are fraught with danger,” she says.
“Australians make presumptions that the food label is correct. But we’ve found that’s not true.
“We need to get better at making sure that those who import food understand our laws.”
How are Solomon Islands regulations up to the required standards in relation to food labeling requirements and is due diligence in place to prevent the importation of health damaging foods that have replaced the foods most often consumed in the past in the traditional way?