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Global Launch of FAO/WHO Food Control System Assessment Tool


The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) hosted the global launch of the FAO/WHO Food Control System Assessment Tool, to introduce the tool and promote the benefits of assessing a national food control system. The event was designed for senior officials and technical officers from competent authorities involved in the operation of the national food control system, but was open to anybody with an interest to find out more about the tool.

The FAO/WHO Food Control System Assessment Tool was published in 2019, and is based on Codex Principles and Guidelines for National Food Control Systems (CXG 82-2013). The launch was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Luz De Regil, Head of the Multisectoral Action in Food Systems Unit at WHO, delivered the opening remarks, discussing WHO’s and FAO’s recent work on developing their respective food safety strategies, where strengthening national food control systems features among the priorities. The Food Control System Assessment Tool should be regarded as a robust approach to evaluate the performance of the food control system of a country, to promote continuous improvements over time, and monitor these, which will in turn increase accountability.

Afterward, Catherine Bessy, Senior Food Safety Officer at FAO, introduced the Food Control System Assessment Tool. It was highlighted that the 4 dimensions which constitute the core of the tool are based on the 13 Codex principles reported in the guidelines for national food control systems (CXG 82-2013). One of the key features of the tool that was discussed was its comprehensive nature for which performance is measured at the system level, assessing the overall capacities of the system rather than the separated efforts of single competent authorities. This provides a global and integrated picture of the food control system of a country. Of note, the assessment model of the tool was developed to limit any cultural bias in and recognise each country’s specific situation, needs and traditions.

The tool structure was discussed in detail, showcasing each competency within each of the 4 Dimensions:

  • Dimension A: Are system resources adequate?
  • Dimension B: How do the controls function?
  • Dimension C: How does the system interact with stakeholders?
  • Dimension D: Does the system facilitate continuous improvement?

The two ways to use the tool were also discussed:

  1. By self-assessment, whereby the government is completely in charge of the implementation of the assessment; this requires national food control experts that are familiar with the tool, to help government stakeholders going through the implementation process;
  2. By “facilitated assessments”, whereby the implementation is externally facilitated by FAO/WHO through the provision of technical support and overall coordination of the process. In this case, the results of the assessment are not disclosed by FAO/WHO, but handed over to the Government.

It was highlighted that the tool is beneficial at both the national and regional levels. Its application contributes to build a common understanding of food control systems’ design and operation. As such, it can facilitate dialogue, support mutual recognition and enhance harmonization between national and regional levels.

Abu Dhabi, Iran, Indonesia, Malawi, Moldova, Morocco, Tunisia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe are some of the countries who have already used this tool.

Hyun Jin Kim, Scientist at WHO, concluded the meeting by showcasing the recently published Introductory booklet, which provides an overview of the assessment tool and the assessment process, allowing the user to easily browse through the 162 assessment criteria of the tool thanks to the interactive functions and the links which facilitate access to external resources.

The English version of the Introductory booklet is available for download on the WHO website and on the FAO website.

The Arabic, French and Spanish versions of the booklet will be available by the end of 2021, while the Russian version will be online by early 2022.


Learn more

The following webpages give access to downloading the FAO/WHO food control system assessment tool in 5 different languages. Make sure to also keep visiting the pages for updated resources:



This launch was certainly welcomed by the participants who attended the event and FAO and WHO look forward to more countries using this important tool.

Watch the webinar here