ISLAMABAD: The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations says that the Asia-Pacific region has a poor track record when it comes to preventing food-borne illnesses, resulting in deaths of 225,000 people every year. Observing the first ‘World Food Safety Day’ on Friday, FAO says worldwide every year, unsafe food or water kill more than HIV, AIDS, malaria and measles combined, and it is now time that everyone takes this issue more seriously. In so many cases the deaths and illnesses associated with consuming unsafe food were needless and could have been prevented, says FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, Kundhavi Kadiresan. While there are various ways that food can become contaminated, in the Asia-Pacific region poor hygiene and mishandling are among the main culprits. Improving hygiene practices in the food and agricultural sectors helps to reduce the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance along the food chain and in the environment. Investment in consumer food safety education has the potential to reduce food borne disease and return savings of up to ten-fold for each dollar invested. Globally, some 600 million cases of food-borne illnesses occur annually and 420,000 people, 30 per cent of them children below the age of five, die every year as a result of these illnesses. In the Asia-Pacific region, more than 275m people fall ill due to food-borne causes every year.