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Two-day Food Safety Day fair conducted with the theme “Food Safety for Better Health”


Food can be contaminated by pathogens, hazardous chemicals or through unsafe human practices that are known as adulterations. Unsafe food is accounted for more than 200 diseases around the world. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 600 million – _or 1 in 10 people in the world – _fall ill after eating contaminated food and 420 000 die every year. Timor Leste stands in a peculiar place when it comes to food safety. The nation has no food related laws or food safety standards and thus an overall weak national food safety system.

The Government of Timor Leste (GoTL) is working on addressing this challenge through a multisectoral effort. First and foremost, it has involved its leadership to commit to food safety efforts. Timor Leste is the 188th member of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), an international food standards body established jointly by the Food and Agriculture organization and the World Health Organization. The country is also a part of the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN), World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the World Trade Organization (WTO)to further shape and strengthen the national food safety system.

The country has for long aspired to have a policy, regulations and laws on food safety and it continues to advocate this important agenda in addition to food security and nutrition. However, food safety is still an area that has been overlooked as the country primarily focused on addressing the issues related to food insecurity and high incidence of stunting. The lack of food safety practices among food vendors and consumers has further exacerbated the challenge.

These issues highlight the urgent need to raise awareness about food safety within the community and spearhead a social and behavioural change. Well planned communication activities and campaigns can play a pivotal role in bringing about this change. The two-day long World Food Safety fairwas planned with this defined focus.

The fair was aimed at promoting key food safety practices and showcase the work of all ministries working in the area of food safety. The fair specifically targeted high school and college students and the community in general. Nearly 300 people attended the fair during the two days. It was seen as an opportunity to learn and share food safety information and promote the message of providing safe and nutritious food in Timor Leste.

The event was jointly planned and implemented by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Ministry of Tourism, Commerce and Industry, National Health Laboratory, Food Inspections Authority, TANE Consumers Protection Association and the World Health Organization. The United Nations agencies such as World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization also provided vital support.