Food safety and quality

Background

FAO’s work on food safety and quality

With an estimated 600 million cases of foodborne illnesses annually, unsafe food is a threat to human health and economies globally. Therefore, ensuring food safety is a public health priority and an essential step to achieving food security. Effective food safety and quality control systems are key not only to safeguarding the health and well-being of people, but also to fostering economic development and improving livelihoods by promoting access to domestic, regional and international markets.

The Food Safety and Quality Unit of the Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department supports the strengthening of systems of food safety and quality control at national, regional and international levels. This involves:

  • Strengthening national food control regulatory capacities and global trade facilitation by providing leadership in supporting countries in the assessment and progressive development of food control systems, including food safety policy and food control regulatory frameworks;
  • Supporting development of institutional and individual capacities for food control and food safety management, including the management of food safety emergencies;
  • Supporting science-based food safety governance and decisions by providing sound scientific advice (through the JECFA and JEMRA expert bodies) to underpin food safety standards at national, regional and international levels;
  • Enhancing food safety management along food chains to prevent diseases and trade disruptions by supporting developing countries to apply risk-based food safety management along food chains that are appropriate for national and local production systems and in compliance with Codex texts;
  • Providing food safety platforms, databases and mechanisms which support networking, dialogue and global access to information and facilitating effective communication internationally on key food safety issues;
  • Developing food safety intelligence and foresight by becoming a major actor in the collection, analysis and communication of food chain intelligence; and
  • Evaluating new technologies to improve food safety and protect public health.

FAO is a recognized leader in the development of global food safety initiatives and translating these into country level action. The Food Safety and Quality Programme supports an integrated and multidisciplinary approach to food safety management and holistic and feasible “food chain” solutions to specific food safety problems as laid out in FAO's Strategy for Improving Food Safety Globally. The foundations for this approach are based on science.

FAO's Food Safety and Quality Unit often works in partnership with national and international bodies and organizations where such partnerships are mutually beneficial and where there is a compatibility of mandate and guiding principles.