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  • “Food safety is everyone’s business”: WHO and FAO spotlight first World Food Safety Day
  • source         Jun 10,2019         50

    “Food safety is everyone’s business”: WHO and FAO spotlight first World Food Safety Day Celebrated today for the first time, World Food Safety Day aims to mainstream food safety and reduce the burden of foodborne diseases

    07 Jun 2019 --- Industry is one of the main players impacting food safety and as such, food producers and retailers have a responsibility to apply a modern, risk-based approach. This will also contribute to industry gaining increased consumer trust, Dr. Kazuaki Miyagishima, Director Department of Food Safety and Zoonoses, World Health Organization (WHO), tells

    “In the past, food safety regulations depended on the safety checks of final food products and on excluding unsafe food and its producers from the market. Today, we should take a more proactive, process control approach,” Dr. Miyagishima notes.

    Improved awareness and increased investment in food safety benefits everyone, he says. Farmers and other food producers, food industry, food sellers and caters, as well as sectors such as tourism and trade also benefit. All these sectors share the responsibility for food safety.

    “Prevention is much better than cure and investment by the industry in improving traceability can facilitate rapid and focused product recall in case of a problem. I would like to see the food industry fully cooperate with the regulatory authorities,” Dr. Miyagishima notes.

    According to WHO, an estimated 600 million people – almost one in ten – fall ill and 420,000 die every year from contaminated food. In addition to contributing to illness and death, foodborne diseases consume health care resources, reduce productivity and negatively impact the economy.

    “Additionally, good processing, storage and preservation help keep food safe, retain nutritional value and reduce post-harvest losses,” she adds.

    However, Jones also notes that the matter is also heavily dependent on consumers. Consumers have the power to drive change and influence policymakers and need to be empowered to make healthy food choices and support sustainable food systems, she says. According to WHO, investment in consumer food safety education has the potential to reduce foodborne disease and return savings of up to US$10 for each dollar invested.

    To mark the day CELCAA, Copa-Cogeca, EuroCommerce, FEFAC and FoodDrinkEurope have released a joint statement reaffirming their responsibility in delivering safe food from farm to fork. Food safety is a joint responsibility for all the partners of the food supply chain, from farm to fork, and is dependent on strong partnerships along the agri-food chain, the statement reads. In addition, feed safety is the basis of safe food of animal origin and therefore an integral component of global food safety systems.

    “Everyone’s business”

    After the UN’s instruction, WHO and FAO will facilitate Member States’ efforts in ensuring food safety this year and in the future. The organizations will assist countries to prevent, manage and respond to risks along the food supply chain, working with food producers and vendors, regulatory authorities and civil society stakeholders, depending on whether the food is domestically produced or imported.

    Access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food is key to sustaining life and promoting good health. Foodborne diseases impede socioeconomic development by straining health care systems and harming national economies, tourism and trade, according to WHO.

    Food safety is also an increasing threat to human health. Children under five years of age carry 40 percent of the foodborne disease burden with 125,000 deaths every year. Foodborne illnesses are caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances entering the body through contaminated food or water. 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.

    Unsafe food also hinders development in many low- and middle-income economies, which lose around US$95 billion in productivity associated with illness, disability and premature death suffered by workers, WHO notes. Food safety is key to achieving several UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and contributes to food security, human health, economic prosperity, agriculture, market access, tourism and sustainable development. World Food Safety Day 2019 seeks to underscore that food safety is everyone’s business.

    “There is no food security without food safety,” says FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, noting that food safety is the business of all – from farmer, farm supplier, food processor, transporter, marketer to consumer.

    Celebrating World Food Safety Day

    Activities around the world for World Food Safety Day aim to inspire action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne health risks. FAO and WHO have created a guide to show how everyone can get involved.

    The guide includes five steps to make a sustained difference to food safety:

    Ensure it’s safe. Governments must ensure safe and nutritious food for all.

    Grow it safe. Agriculture and food producers need to adopt good practices.

    Keep it safe. Business operators must make sure food is safely transported, stored and prepared.

    Check it’s safe. Consumers need access to timely, clear and reliable information about the nutritional and disease risks associated with their food choices.

    Team up for safety. Governments, regional economic bodies, UN organizations, development agencies, trade organizations, consumer and producer groups, academic and research institutions and private sector entities must work together on food safety issues.

    The next step

    World Food Safety Day is expected to catalyze and enhance multisectoral collaboration between different players and between different government branches.

    Countries which do not have yet a national food safety campaign week or month may consider having one, says Dr. Miyagishima. “This year, WHO and FAO have chosen ‘Food safety, Everyone’s business’ as a theme, to stress the responsibility of all players on the food chain. Next year, we will choose a different slogan to focus on a different aspect of food safety.”

    “Going forward, collaboration is needed at many levels – across sectors within a government and across borders when combating outbreaks of foodborne illness globally,” Jones highlights.

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