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Food Chain Crisis

Food safety incidents, radiation events, antimicrobial resistance and outbreaks of plant and animal pests and diseases are on the increase. They disrupt food systems, present serious health risks, jeopardize livelihoods, affect food security and impact economies. 

Prevention saves lives, saves livelihoods, saves money.

Food chain emergencies originate from diverse sources, including plant pests (e.g. locusts, wheat rust, army worm), animal diseases (e.g. Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1, peste des petits ruminants PPR) and food safety threats (e.g. dioxins, Salmonella). 

To prevent emergencies, improve preparedness and effective response, FAO established the Food Chain Crisis Management Framework (FCC).  Through the FCC, FAO works with governments, partners (e.g. World Health Organization, OIE - World Organisation for Animal Health) and regional networks. FAO provides early warning services (e.g. FAO Emergency Prevention System EMPRES),   analysis, capacity building and intelligence. FAO also coordinates international governance mechanisms and efforts to eradicate specific pests and diseases.

Key Policy Messages

  • Preventing animal and plant diseases and pests, and food safety threats, is critical in the fight against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. Without concerted action it is expected that threats to globalized food chains will only increase.
  • Investment in prevention is more cost effective than responding to food chain crisis. Prevention has proven to be four to seven times cheaper than responding to emergencies. It is also ecologically less devastating and will save lives and safeguard livelihoods. Prevention includes vaccination, hygiene, observance of standards and good practices, enforcement of regulation, surveillance, early warning, early action, planning, partnerships and collaboration. 
  • Many factors can influence disease dynamics, ranging from globalization, land use change, livestock intensification, deforestation to climate change. Multi-disciplinary approaches (such as One Health), partnerships between organisations and multi-sectoral polices are needed to address the factors that cause the emergence and persistence of diseases and pests. 
  • Food safety problems are rooted in chemical, bacteriological or epidemiological issues during food production, transformation, transport and distribution. They often occur when food quality and hygiene standards, or norms regarding processes (e.g. Codex Alimentarius Convention), are not observed. The development of food safety policies, regulations and institutions is critical to prevent, contain and respond to major food safety incidents.
  • Political commitment and increased financial resources are needed to prevent and combat high-impact and transboundary animal and plant diseases as well as food safety crisis. Collaboration is essential to address threats that pervade value chains across countries. Special attention must be placed on supporting those countries whose institutional and technical capabilities are limited. 

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