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FAO, WHO and Codex celebrate World Food Safety Day 2021 with a virtual talk about science


FAO Director-General QU Dongyu and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged global action to ensure that everyone has access to safe food now for a healthy tomorrow – through video messages at the opening of an online Zoom gathering that was also webcast on 7 June 2021.

“Food safety is essential to achieve more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems which provide healthy foods for everyone and everywhere,” said the FAO Director-General, encouraging collaboration to transform agri-food systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life.

The WHO Director-General noted that when food safety is improved, we reduce hunger, malnutrition and infant mortality. “In these trying times, we have a collective responsibility to ensure safe, healthy and nutritious food,” he said.

The Chief Scientists of the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization were the special guests as the Codex parent organizations held their World Food Safety Day event live online.

“Science is central to food safety,” said Soumya Swaminathan, WHO. The Chief Scientist explained how science brings solutions as has been seen with the COVID-19 pandemic. “How you intervene on food safety depends on your understanding of which interventions will have the most impact in reducing the risk. Authorities responsible for food safety need to utilize information on the food chain in order to make decisions and allocate resources to strengthen national food safety systems.”

Codex, a wonderful and sustained collaboration

Scientific advice provided by WHO and FAO to Codex is critical for the development of food safety international standards which are based on sound science. “I have seen how the Codex Alimentarius works and what a wonderful and sustained collaboration this has been,” said Dr Swaminathan.

Ismahane Elouafi, Chief Scientist, FAO picked up on the World Food Safety Day slogan, “Food safety is everyone’s business,” to remind webinar participants and webcast viewers how the new FAO Food Safety Strategy will support member countries with the development of their food safety capacities by encouraging an inclusive approach that engages stakeholders from regional, national and local levels.

Underlining the collaborative nature of work in the two organizations Dr Elouafi said: “We are proud to lead the Joint Scientific Advice Programme that focuses on providing all scientific advice to the Codex Alimentarius. This programme enjoys the highest reputation for inclusiveness, scientific excellence and impartiality thereby attracting the brightest of global scientists.”

Success stories

WFSD live event

David Massey, Codex Secretariat, introduces World Food Safety Day 2021 © FAO/Codex

The event was also an opportunity to showcase food safety success stories from around the world in celebration of this third occurrence of World Food Safety Day. Focussing on topics ranging from youth education, to water management, combatting antimicrobial resistance, access to international markets, food processing and One Health, participants gained a valuable insight on the theme for 2021: safe food now for a healthy tomorrow.

Watch the recording:

Main photo: Sarah Cahill, Codex Secretariat, interviews Ismahane Elouafi, FAO (left) and Soumya Swaminathan, WHO © FAO/Codex