Ensuring Food on Your Plate is Safe

Ensuring Food on  Your Plate is SafeEnsuring Food on  Your Plate is Safe

The theme for the World Health Day 2015 (April 7) is food safety, said Dr. Rasoul Dinarvand, head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Food safety plays a major role in health promotion and disease prevention and to ensure food safety, well-equipped laboratories are needed. “However our situation is not favorable in terms of food control laboratories,” Mehr News Agency quoted him as saying.

“We have not reached the level yet to fully meet the standards, and assure the people that all food products in the market are safe and healthy.”

At present, food labs abroad are able to detect 800 different kinds of toxins, “with just a simple injection.” But unfortunately, we are still not equipped with the technology,” he said.

Another attempt to promote good nutrition is to limit unhealthy food consumption including salt, sugar and fast food and establishing the right amount of calories.”Iranians consume 20% more calories than they need,” he noted.

Food enrichment with vitamins and minerals is another important measure which is on the administration’s agenda.

“To achieve the objectives, certain criteria have been established for the next year (starts March 21),” he said. “In general, the priority of the health ministry in the next year is ensuring safe food.” Labels with nutritional value rating on different foods products will be provided to help people choose their options.


In October, food labeling in three colors of red, green and yellow, according to their health value and safety, were notified to relevant departments. It was expected the implementation of the plan would take 18 months. “But I’m glad to announce the plan will be implemented from the beginning of Nowroz or New Year and by the end of the next year (March 20, 2016) all food products in the market will be labeled,” Dinarvand said.

The administration’s other objectives include encouraging milk and milk products consumption, and improving bread and grain consumption patterns.

The annual per capita wheat consumption in Iran is 170 kg, which is higher than other countries. “Wheat consumption is not harmful by itself, but we should determine standards that are compatible with our consumption. If we consume four times more wheat than another country, the standard amount of heavy metal in our wheat crops should be four times less; since a grain product which is considered safe in another country may not necessarily be the safety standard here.”

Another important measure taken was reducing palm oil consumption. Last year 700,000 tons of palm oil was imported, but this year it has declined by 300,000 tons; or imports were 420,000 tons.

Modifying the technical criteria for edible oils will also continue in the next year; the amount of trans fats in edible oils shouldn’t exceed 5%, a measure which is important in prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

The administration also has plans to equip laboratories to detect and deal with food fraud. To achieve this goal, $8.82 million has been allocated to equip laboratories, especially the control laboratory in Bushehr, which is an important import route.

All these measures will have important long-term effects on people’s health.  Minister of Health Seyed Hassan Hashemi in his recent three-day visit to Japan realized that Japan has succeeded in increasing average longevity to 83 years by taking food safety measures, including strict control on pesticides and promotion of healthy nutrition.  

Unsafe food is linked to the deaths of an estimated 2 million people annually. As food supply becomes increasingly globalized new threats are constantly emerging. Food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances is responsible for more than 200 diseases, ranging from diarrhea to cancers. Be informed to ensure that the food on your plate is safe to eat. This is the message of the 2015 World Health Day.

  Top Researcher

Meanwhile, Dinarvand is listed among the 25 Iranian researchers named as the world’s 2015 Highly Cited Researchers by Thomson Reuters.

Fereydoon Azizi, head of the Research Institute for Endocrine Sciences - affiliated to Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, is also among the researchers, IRNA reported.    

Thompson Reuters studied citations from 2004 to 2014.

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