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Facebook live event kicks off World Food Safety Day celebrations for FAO and WHO


In a wide-ranging discussion on food safety “from farm to table”, World Food Safety Day celebrations got underway on Friday 5 June, 2020 with a virtual event broadcast from WHO headquarters in Geneva, hosted by Pippa Haughton, WHO (left). The Facebook live guests were Sarah Cahill, Senior Food Standards Officer in the Codex Secretariat and Francesco Branca, WHO Director of Nutrition and Food Safety.

Several hundred thousand viewers from around the world on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube followed the event and took part in the live question and answer session with the two experts.

The Director-General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus welcomed viewers via a video message and said the World Food Safety Day was “a reminder that we can all play a role in making food safer”. He also applauded the work of frontline food workers who have been ensuring that we all continue to access safe food.

“Food security and food safety are basic rights of human beings”, said QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General as he also greeted audiences via a video message. He went on to describe those working to keep food safe during the COVID-19 pandemic as “our true food heroes” deserving of our thanks on World Food Safety Day.

Discussing food production Sarah Cahill said that in keeping food safe it was critical for farmers to adopt good practices such as good hygiene, good biosecurity and good environmental waste management to keep hazards and contaminants out of food or at the lowest possible levels. “Workers too need to be aware of the role they play and practice good personal hygiene”, she said, and we need to also ensure that the environment in which food is produced remains safe.

Responding to questions online Cahill said: “This pandemic has been really challenging for food producers in the frontline in making sure that while many of us are in lockdown we continue to have access to safe and nutritious food”.

“One in ten people every year fall ill eating contaminated food and 420 000 die as a result of foodborne disease” said Francesco Branca, reminding the audience why food safety is key to people, especially vulnerable groups and children being well nourished. “Safe food is a basic thing for our own health, well being and for society”, he said.

The focus of World Food Safety Day in 2020 is on markets. “They must offer us safe and healthy food” he said, by ensuring the availability of fresh water, the safe disposal of waste and the separation of the different areas in a market such as fruit and vegetables and animal products.

It’s not possible to get coronavirus from food

Viewers writing in on Facebook and LinkedIn wanted to know if food in stores is likely to be a cause of COVID-19. “The virus is not transmitted from the food”, said Branca also excluding packaging as a source of infection whilst emphasizing the importance of the public maintaining general rules of hygiene and the need to protect food workers to ensure they do not become infected from each other.

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Follow global World Food Safety Day events here.

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