Animal health

Food safety

Food security is achievable when food is not only available, accessible and nutritious, but when it is safe as well.

All consumers have the right to expect that food available in domestic markets is safe and of high quality. However, food can become contaminated at any stage in the food chain. Good practices are critical at all stages throughout the food chain, from production to consumption, in order to maintain food safety. Therefore, it is critical to control food borne pathogens, chemical contaminants and veterinary drug residues through good farm management, the raising of healthy animals, and processing meat and poultry products in such a way that the introduction of pathogens is avoided.

Improving animal health, including preventing infections, providing safe animal feed and controlling antimicrobial resistance and drug residues, is essential for the safety of food products that come from animals.

Animal health for food safety

FAO aims to improve food safety and quality management systems, based on scientific and risk-based principles that lead to reduced foodborne illness and support fair and transparent trade, thereby contributing to economic development, improved livelihoods and food security.

Animal health practices are important for food safety, including:

  • health inspection of animals, and subsequent control strategies at harvest and processing to ensure product hygiene.
  • control of microbes that may be carried by healthy animals, but may make people sick if they contaminate food.
  • protection of animals from environmental chemical hazards that could make meat and milk products unsafe - for example, prevent animals from grazing on contaminated fields.
  • responsible use of antimicrobials such that residues are avoided and the development antimicrobial-resistant organisms is minimized.
  • waste management from animals to protect the environment - for example prevent Salmonella contamination from farm waste reaching water used for vegetable irrigation.
How do we do it?

FAO aims to identify likely food safety threats coming from animal production – and works on prevention and control with governmental authorities, veterinary services, local industry and other relevant stakeholders, through:

Capacity development

  • advising governments on food safety policies and legislative and regulatory frameworks.
  • enhancing member country participation in CODEX ALIMENTARIUS: which sets international food safety standards, guidelines and codes of practice.
  • promoting food safety emergency preparedness in institutions, to build resilient agri-food chains.
  • enhancing food safety management along food chains from production to consumption, including individuals' practices, to prevent foodborne diseases and trade disruptions.
  • raising awareness on prudent and proper use of antimicrobials in food-producing animals.

Scientific advice

  • providing independent scientific advice to CODEX standard-setting through expert bodies.


  • tracking and mapping latest information and events regarding animal health, and how these can affect food safety through interconnected modules of FAO’s Emergency Prevention System.

Publications and tools

  • developing online platforms for global networking; databases for information sharing; and tools to support food safety management.