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Food chain

Viet Nam vaccination campaign against the H5N1 virus ©FAO/Hoang Dinh Nam

The human food chain is continuously threatened by the increasing number of outbreaks of transboundary animal and plant pests and diseases, including aquatic and forest pests and diseases, and food safety and radiation events.

Avian influenza, Peste des Petits Ruminants, locust infestations, wheat, cassava, maize and banana diseases, food borne pathogens and mycotoxins are some examples of threats to the human food chain. FAO addresses the risks to the human food chain through a comprehensive, multidisciplinary and institution-wide collaborative approach.

FAO's role in food chain

Through the Food Chain Crisis Management Framework (FCC), FAO addresses risks to the human food chain in an integrated and multidisciplinary manner.

FAO’s approach integrates  prevention of and early warning to emerging threats to the human food chain, as well as the response to emergencies threatening the human food chain.

FAO supports member countries and institutional collaboration in the global governance of transboundary threats to the food chain at all stages from production to consumption.

Transboundary threats to production, health and environment

  • Animal Health
    Influenza viruses, such as A(H7N9) and H5N1, foot-and-mouth disease, Rift Valley fever, African swine fever and peste des petits ruminants continue to raise alarm because of active spread.
  • Plant Protection
    Locusts, armyworm, fruit flies, banana and cassava diseases and wheat and coffee rusts are among the most destructive transboundary plant pests and diseases.
  • Food Safety
    Incidents, such as Escherichia coli, hepatitis A contaminated green onions, semi-dried tomatoes and red berries, salmonellosis outbreak with peanuts, and melamine contamination of dairy foods, resulted in human morbidity and mortalities, trade disruptions and huge economic losses.

Coordination and intelligence

Coordination is key when addressing threats to the food chain.

FAO oversees risk analysis and intelligence, and long-term food chain threat forecasting.

FAO assesses trends and threats to the food chain and ensures information sharing.

Prevention and early warning

The FAO Emergency Prevention System (EMPRES) addresses prevention, early warning and risk assessment to inform response actions across the entire food chain – animal health, plant protection and food safety.

EMPRES promotes international cooperation to prevent, contain and control the most serious transboundary animal diseases, plant pests and diseases and food safety hazards.


FAO response programmes address the immediate, medium and longer-term impacts on food security, livelihoods and human health, at global, regional and national levels.

FAO responds to food chain emergencies and implements programmes addressing emergency response preparedness to food chain crises through national capacity development.

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