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Turkey opens week of World Food Safety Day Food Safety Conversations


On 7 June, Samim Saner, President of the Turkish Food Safety Association moderated the first of a week-long series of “Food Safety Conversations” to mark World Food Safety Day. This webinar was entitled simply “The World Food Safety Day panel: safe food now for a healthy tomorrow.”

Guests from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and Turkey’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry talked about key food safety issues in their area of work.

For FAO, Dr Viorel Gutu summarised the United Nations General Assembly resolution that established World Food Safety Day and highlighted the fact that food safety is an integral part of food systems and, as such, “food safety needs collaboration between different stakeholders and countries.” The upcoming Food Systems Summit will touch on food safety issues, he said. Food safety itself needs a holistic approach and the FAO/WHO/World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) One Health initiative on food safety has been, he remarked, a very successful collaboration between these agencies and governments around the world.

Food safety needs collaboration

He went on to comment that COVID19 has done much to underline the importance and the global nature of food safety and how, to respond effectively to crisis situations which make food safety a priority, government and industry should draw on science-based management. FAO does much to promote international standards and good practices developed by the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius and guides governments on regulatory systems, on Codex guidance and offers support on complex food chain issues.

Professor Toker Ergüder gave a talk on one WHO perspective on human health and food safety. He took the subject of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and made a case for introducing more stringent regulations in Turkey, to curb the consumption of salt and sugar. He put forward a few examples that have been successful in raising public awareness about salt and sugar consumption, like the traffic light system of food labelling used in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and other labelling strategies in place in countries like France, Chile and Mexico. He also suggested that a sugar tax is one way of introducing an encouragement to consumers to make a healthier choice, especially when buying fizzy drinks.

The Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Ayşe Ayşin Işikece, then described some of Turkey’s food safety activities, emphasising the World Food Safety Day theme “safe food now for a healthy tomorrow.” The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is doing its best, she said, to comply with internationally recognized food standards, including Codex standards and standards developed by the European Union. Working hard to protect every step of the food chain, Turkey has 7000 expert inspectors, she said, and completed 1.3 million audits of food premises in 2020. A WhatsApp line has also been established for consumers to report food safety issues and this has been popular and productive.

In a short question and answer session at the end of the webinar, Dr Gutu responded to a query about why Turkey does not do as well as other countries on food and agricultural sustainability. “Be Positive!” was the response! “Turkey does better than most.” He said Turkey can do better on communicating more efficient intensification methodologies at the grassroots, but that is what FAO is working on.


Watch the webinar here: