Page tools
codexalimentarius > News and Events > News details
WFSD news - RNE.jpg

World Food Safety Day/ FAO and WHO working to ensure everyone has access to safe and healthy food in the Near East region


Cairo/ June 10, 2024

The Regional Office of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Near East and North Africa (FAO RNE) in partnership with the World Health Organization Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (WHO EMRO) jointly organized an awareness campaign event on the occasion of World Food Safety Day, held under the theme “food safety: prepare for the unexpected”. This year’s World Food Safety Day theme offered an opportunity to acknowledge that even when the unexpected happens, from natural disasters to a power outage, there are ways we can ensure our food is safe.

For this year’s celebration, the action-oriented campaign promoted global food safety awareness to strengthen efforts on preventing, detecting, and managing foodborne risks globally by underlining the importance of being prepared for food safety incidents, no matter how mild or severe they can be.

The hybrid event, which was held online and at the FAO RNE premises in Cairo, comprised three panel sessions with presentations and a dialogue to align priorities, support mutual efforts, and address solutions to enhance ways of working together.

“Controlling food risks and outbreaks cannot be achieved by one sector working alone. In this context, FAO RNE works to assist the governments of the region in monitoring food safety challenges by providing support and working to confront general challenges. FAO RNE assists governments by strengthening efforts aimed at establishing effective and efficient food safety management systems, strengthening coordination mechanisms between all sectors, communicating between key stakeholders. FAO RNE also helps countries adopt risk-based prevention systems, effective risk management and rapid response to food safety emergencies and foodborne disease outbreaks through a “One Health” approach” said Abdulhakim El-Waer FAO Assistant Director-General, Regional Representative for Near East and North Africa.

“Food Safety is vital for health, and a critical part of a public health and climate change agenda. In the WHO EMRO region an estimated 100 million people suffer from foodborne diseases annually and 32 million of them are children under the age of five. Tragically, at least 37 000 people die annually because of unsafe food, primarily from diarrheal diseases” said Hanan Balkhy, WHO EMRO regional director.

“Careful preparedness and planning, rapid information exchange and effective communication across the food continuum, nationally and globally, are essential to ensure prompt action when the time comes and this helps save lives” she added.

The joint event was attended by senior officials representing food safety competent authorities, Codex Alimentarius Commission (FAO/WHO Codex), the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Agrifood Systems and Food Safety Division of the FAO (FAO-ESF), in addition to partners from the League of Arab States (LAS), the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority - in UAE (ADAFSA), the National Office of Food Safety in Morocco (ONSSA), and the National Food Safety Authority (NFSA) - in the Arab Republic of Egypt.

The participants provided their perspectives, views, and priorities to be considered in how we can better work towards ensuring safe and healthy food for everyone.

Food safety saves lives. It is not only a crucial component to food security, but it also plays a vital role in reducing foodborne disease. Every year, 600 million people fall sick as a result of around 200 different types of foodborne illness. The burden of such illness falls most heavily on the poor and on the young. In addition, foodborne illness is responsible for 420 000 preventable deaths every year.

Everyone - from policymakers, experts and producers to processors, distributors, retailers, restaurant outlets and consumers - is encouraged to consider if they are ready for the unexpected, and what they can do to better prepare to ensure everyone has access to safe food, even in case of unpredictable events.

This year’s celebration coincides with the 20th anniversary of the FAO/WHO International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) that was established following the development and adoption of the Codex Principles and Guidelines for the Exchange of Information in Food Safety Emergency Situations (CXG 19-1995) which was the genesis of INFOSAN in terms of designation of emergency contact points at the national level.

Read more

World Food Safety Day events this year
Codex Principles and Guidelines for the Exchange of Information in Food Safety Emergency Situations (CXG 19-1995)