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WHO and FAO celebrate the fourth annual World Food Safety Day on Zoom


Thanking participants for their commitment to safer food and better health, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus opened the 7 June webinar by sharing the news that countries approved the updated WHO Global Strategy for Food Safety. In late May 2022, the World Health Assembly committed “for the first time to concrete targets for reducing foodborne diarrhoea, strengthening surveillance, and improving coordination,” he announced.

Also relaying World Food Safety Day greetings via video message at the opening of the online event was FAO Director-General Dr QU Dongyu. “Safe food contributes to the transformation of our agrifood systems to be more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable,” he said, underscoring that food safety is everyone’s business. He also said that without food safety, we cannot have food security.

Dr Naoko Yamamoto, Assistant Director-General, WHO Division of UHC/Healthier Populations, spoke about safe food delivering better health for all in a question-and-answer segment that also included Mr Dominique Burgeon, Director of the FAO Liaison Office with the United Nations in Geneva, whose remarks centred on working together for food safety. The event was moderated by Dr Francesco Branca, Director, Department of Nutrition and Food Safety, WHO.

“Safe food is essential to human health and well-being,” Yamamoto said. “It is a critical guarantor for good health,” she added, noting that one in ten people fall ill because of unsafe food. Speaking of the importance of food safety for all of society she stressed that children are the most vulnerable. “WHO is supporting countries to build strong and resilient national food safety systems,” and Yamamoto outlined what specific actions policymakers, food businesses, educational institutional institutions and workplaces can take to keep food safe.

Burgeon explained that food safety is part food security, and that World Food Safety Day is a day to celebrate all the actors in the agrifood system who regularly deliver us safe food. “Everyone has the right to safe food; and everyone needs to know their food is safe, no matter where it comes from,” he said, referring to the importance of food safety in international trade. The Codex Alimentarius, or food code, is exemplary of international collaboration. FAO and WHO work with countries to set food safety standards that are used internationally and, increasingly, in national policies, he explained. Burgeon responded to a question from the audience: because trends like climate change are affecting the safety of our food, FAO promotes using a proactive, forward-looking approach called ‘foresight’.

A panel of four speakers highlighted the role of food safety in different settings across the food supply chain. Mr Tan Han Kiat, Singapore, described the transformation of traditional food markets. Suresh Kumar, explained how in India they put in place food safety best practices to meet the challenge of feeding in schools. The audience heard from Constanza Vergara, Chile about educational programmes that combine a multisensorial experience to transfer food safety habits and Nicole Sharon Affrifah revealed how at university in Ghana they are preparing the next generation of food business workers.

Dr Tom Heilandt, Secretary of the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission, concluded the session with a concise message: We must be constantly vigilant, working to make our food safe and reminding ourselves that sickness from food should never be normal.


Learn more

See the event programme in ArabicChineseEnglishFrenchRussianSpanish

Visit the World Food Safety Day site

Read about food safety at FAO and WHO

Find out more about Codex Alimentarius food standards

Photo credit © FAO/Adriano Timossi