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World Food Forum / Two young experts share their vision on food safety


On the occasion of the World Food Forum, a youth-led movement and network to transform our agrifood systems, we had a chat with Espoir Agbohouto and Minh Nguyen, two young food safety experts currently working with FAO and the Codex Secretariat, respectively.

In this interview, they explain how they developed a passion for food safety and how young generations can contribute to safer and more sustainable agrifood systems.

Dear Espoir and Minh, thanks for your time. Why did you choose to study food safety?

E. My choice to study food safety is rooted in a combination of personal realizations, professional experiences, and a profound conviction in the moral responsibility to safeguard the safety of our food supply. It is a commitment that extends beyond a mere academic or professional pursuit; it is a dedication to ensuring the health and welfare of individuals and communities worldwide and specially to give a helping hand to the common effort in my country, Benin.

M. When I was a child, my dad spoke of his days as a farmer, and that led to my interest in science and agriculture. Cooking is my hobby so studying about food science is the best of both worlds for me. Throughout my studies of food science and technology, prioritizing food safety has been a constant. It stands as a core objective in food science and technology, to ensure and improve food safety for all people.  Today, I am driven to share my knowledge and raise awareness of food safety.

Why should young people care about food safety?

E. Young people, as future leaders, have the opportunity to influence policies and practices related to food safety and contribute to safer and more sustainable food systems. Being knowledgeable about food safety is a form of social responsibility. Young people as pioneer of their community can play a role in raising awareness about food safety in their communities and encouraging better practices in local food establishments. Food safety directly impacts our health, well-being, and the health of those around them. Understanding and practicing food safety is a valuable life skill that not only protects individuals but also the world, to have safer, healthier, and more sustainable agrifood systems.

M. Firstly, people require sustenance, and the food we consume must be safe for maintaining a healthy life. Food safety is important for everyone at any age. Secondly, understanding food safety practices empowers them to make informed choices. Nowadays, food options are diverse and constantly evolving, having the knowledge to select and handle food safely is a valuable life skill. Lastly, promoting food safety contributes to broader community health. Young people play crucial role in setting society norms. By promoting and practicing food safety, young people contribute to improve the culture that value well-being of everyone.

One final question for each of you. Espoir, what in your view is the connection between food safety and agrifood systems?

E. Agrifood systems are multidimensional, including sociocultural, economic, environmental, and political aspects, and complex involving different actors including producers, food-chain actors, and consumers, managing agrifood value chains within dynamic and interactive food environments. All actors and activities in the agrifood systems must consider safety quality of foods for supplying safe and healthy diets. Safety and quality of foods need to be tackled along the entire agrifood value chain, from on-farm practices, use of agricultural inputs through production, harvesting, processing, storage, distribution, and preparation to consumption. In a nutshell, food safety is integral to the production, distribution, and consumption of food within agrifood systems, and it has far-reaching implications for public health, economic well-being, and environmental sustainability. After all, food safety is everyone’s business.

Minh, Codex turned 60 this year. How can it stay relevant in the future?

M. The role of food safety is more important than ever due to population growth, urbanization, climate change, and the engagement of cutting-edge technology with an increase in novel foods. Therefore, it is important to review and update Codex standards to keep up with technological developments and other global changes, continuing to protect consumer health and ensure fair practices in the food trade.  


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