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What’s really on your plate? Check in a few clicks
A WEBSITE that will allow consumers in Cyprus to find out about the different ingredients that go into the food they eat has been developed by the Food Safety Council.
The site was presented at the health ministry this week in the presence of Minister Androulla Agrotou. “As a link between Europe and the Middle East and as the EU’s most eastern point, Cyprus has a serious responsibility to secure safe and healthy food by creating a method to check the import of foods,” she said.
Agrotou explained that the system in place was mainly for preventative and proactive reasons, adhering to EU policy by covering the chain of production up to the point where food is placed on the plate.
“Furthermore, informing the public and productive communication with a wider consumer audience will help develop a healthy eating culture and enable people to face different dangers,” she added.
According to Agrotou, over the last three years under the leadership of the health ministry’s permanent secretary, Dionysis Mavronicolas, the Food Safety Council has essentially been very effective in responding to crises. “The earthquake in Japan and the Mari Naval Base blast were prime examples of how the council did not allow crises to effect food distribution or safety,” she added.
The minister went on to explain that a bad diet and a lack of physical exercise were why 50 per cent of adults in Europe were overweight or obese. “It is also estimated that more than 21 million children are obese, a number which rises by 400,000 each year,” she said.
It is for this reason, according to the minister, that the EU has in recent years given added importance to setting out special information to consumers and placing limits on certain foods by promoting a reduction in salt, fats and sugars in food.
“The EU has highlighted that it is important for consumers to be well informed before they chose what to eat so they can make sure they find the healthiest option,” she added.
For consumers to have those choices, Agrotou pointed out, they must have facts on food ingredients, especially in cases of non-packaged and cooked food. “It is the primary concern of the Health Ministry and the Food Safety Council, to offer timely and accurate information to aid healthy eating, stressing the importance of a balanced diet, in particular that based on the traditional Mediterranean diet,” she said.
“A balanced diet is necessary, not only for the smooth running of our children’s minds and bodies but for the prevention of illnesses in later life which was one of the priorities of Cyprus’ EU presidency,” she concluded.
Mavronicolas, who is also head of the Food Safety Council, said the council was carrying out multi-annual checks on food samples taken at critical points of production. He added that any samples found that did not pass the stringent checks were immediately reported by state Health Services to the Rapid Alert System for food. “The council’s goal is to impose transparent procedures so consumers can regain their trust in the state and also to gain trust in the quality and safety of food,” he added.
Senior Chemist for the State Laboratory, Dr Stelios Yiannopoulos revealed 2,500 checks were done on 69 different foods from bakeries, cooked foods with meat and other cooked foods. Other traditional foods were checked including free-range fish and farmed fish in Cyprus.
The foods were checked for humidity, fat, fatty acids, protein, ash, dietary fibres, carbohydrates, calories, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, nickel and copper.
The laboratory also analysed four traditional Cypriot foods which were the flaouna, zalatina, resi and a pork kebab in Cypriot pitta bread.
For more information visit www.moh.gov.cy/fsc