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The media plays a vital role in World Food Safety Day 2023 successes


World Food Safety Day messages reached people across at least 139 countries this year. Newspapers, online news sites, television programmes, radio stations and magazines all played a part in spreading the word.

On 7 March, the World Food Safety Day campaign was launched and the year’s theme, “Food standards save lives”, was announced. The Food Safety Africa magazine dedicated a double page spread to World Food Safety Day in its March issue and the Food Safety Magazine reported on the year’s theme and, just before 7 June, previewed the four FAO and partner-hosted events and also featured an article written by FAO’s Corinna Hawkes.

‘Nobody should die from eating food’, declared a headline on the United Nations website on 6 June, the eve of World Food Safety Day.

Government voices heard across the world
At the national level, ministries and other government agencies spoke with media outlets to promote food safety and, in a number of instances, announce or reiterate food safety-related policy. In many countries, the media reported on official events.

In Benin, the television channels ORTB and Canal3 and three radio stations, as well as the La Presse du Jour newspaper, all covered official messaging and events. A statement from Françoise Assogba Komlan, Secretary General of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, on behalf of the Minister, called for reflections on how best to consolidate improvements to food safety in the country, and the Director-General of Benin’s Food Safety Agency, Epiphane Hossou, appeared in TV and radio interviews and live events. The message from Canada’s Minister of Health, Jean-Yves Duclos, that “food safety is essential to our health” was reported in Canada’s media, including on the Newswire site. In Côte d’Ivoire, the news site and others covered the announcement by Sidi Tiémoko Touré, Minister of Animal and Fishery Resources, of a two-year food safety project.

Algeria’s television channel, Ennahar TV plus covered the announcement on World Food Safety Day of a collaboration agreement between thePasteur Institute of Algeria and the Bellat Group on the provision of laboratory services. The Bangladesh Food Safety Authority event was covered by Somoy TV and in Fiji the government event saw the launch of materials on behavioural change to improve nutrition for children, which was the subject of an FBC News report. The Georgian events organized by the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health and Technical University of Georgia with FAO and WHO were comprehensively covered in the online press by agrokavkaz, TV4, the Georgian News Agency, GHN, and kvira, and the Guatemala New Agency, AGN, reported on Ministry of Food and Agriculture activities. Altai TV in Kazakhstan reported on activities in the city of Ust-Kamenogorsk where specialists from the Department of Sanitary and Epidemiological Control of East Kazakhstan region checked the quality of food products at central points of sale. In Nigeria, the Guardian newspaper and the Nation Online reported on the government’s urgent call for action on food safety. In Senegal, Santé TV covered the ‘Scientific Day’ that was co-hosted between Cheikh Anta Diop University and the National Codex Committee, and in Sri Lanka, AsiaNews covered a government-sponsored conference on the possibility of developing a standard for the local drink, Toddy.

FAO, WHO and Codex representatives are quoted
On 7 June, the Director of the FAO Liaison Office in Geneva, Dominique Burgeon, and Director of the Department of Nutrition and Food Safety at WHO, Francesco Branca, attended a press conference which was covered by Azerbaijan’s state news agency and Turkey’s Anadolu Agency, amongst others. In it, they talked about the impacts of foodborne diseases and about the standards established by the Codex Alimentarius to help prevent them. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also referenced World Food Safety Day in his 8 June press conference, reiterating that “Safe food is a primary determinant of human health.”

FAO, WHO and Codex representatives past and present worked with media to highlight food safety issues in different parts of the world. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for Southeast Asia, wrote a press release entitled "Food safety standards save lives". Meanwhile, Renata Clarke, Coordinator of FAO’s Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean wrote a widely distributed article about the implementation of food standards in the subregion. “We are seeing improvements in several countries,” she wrote, “but there is a need to accelerate this progress.”

Former Vice-Chairperson of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, Purwiyatno Hariyadi penned an opinion article for Indonesia’s Republika newspaper, in which he drew attention to the role of food safety in helping to address the issue of childhood stunting in the country. Meanwhile, in Sri Lanka, the FAO Representative to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Vimlendra Sharan, joined forces with the Chargé d’affaires ad interim of the Delegation of the European Union in Sri Lanka, Lars Bredal, and René Van Berkel, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Representative to Sri Lanka, to write an article urging reform of Sri Lanka’s “food safety landscape” to ensure continued progress in tackling foodborne illness.

FAO and WHO events are covered globally
Food Safety News promoted WHO’s Health Talks and reviewed some of those events, as well as the FAO and WHO high-level event that took place on 7 June.

FAO also hosted a 7 June event to launch a new GHP (Good Hygiene Practices) and HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) Toolbox for Food Safety. GHP and HACCP are key components of Codex’s widely used General Principles of Food Hygiene, and the basis of food policy for many food businesses and regulatory bodies. The launch of the Toolbox was reported in an article in the International Journal for Rural Development, by the global Spanish language publication, Mundiario, in Agriland, Ireland’s farming news portal, by Togo’s Lomé Actu newspaper, Turkey’s General Directorate of Food and Control and Venezuela’s TeleSur TV website.

The media explore the issues
On World Food Safety Day, the media told viewers and readers about the Day, sharing key messages and statistics and advising on general food safety issues. In many cases, outlets went further by looking at the various issues associated with food safety and seeking to inform consumers on a deeper level. In an acknowledgement of the importance of the media in raising awareness on food safety, the Consumer Foundation of Cameroon ran a workshop for journalists, to inform them about how “Food standards save lives”.

China’s TV News CH52 ran a feature on the inspectors who investigate “problem products so that people can eat with peace of mind” and in Côte d’Ivoire, the consumer rights channel CNLVC Tv took stock of national food safety issues in a magazine show.

In Iraq, the Zagros Arabic TV channel interviewed Sanad Al-Faham Al-Daaraji, Managing Director of the Iraqi Consumer Protection Society and Oman TV General talked with Ali bin Rashid Al-Ghafri, Director of the Central Laboratory for Food Safety in Oman on the importance of World Food Safety Day. The Russian Federation’s Open Studio programme on the 78 television channel dedicated an entire 40-minute show to a studio discussion on food safety. St Petersburg TV’s morning show also ran a feature with live interviews. In Serbia, the RTS radio station interviewed Elizabet Janić Hajnal, Director of the Scientific Institute for Food Technologies in Novi Sad on the impacts of unsafe food. The Chinese-language 8 world TV in Singapore spoke with food safety experts, as did a reporter from Việt Nam News, who interviewed ILRI expert, Fred Unger, on food safety in the pork chain. Zambian journalist, Misheck Nyirongo, wrote an article that was published in News Ghana.

General information distributed by the World Food Safety Day campaign found its way into the health news on Al Jazeera’s website, the Dominican Republic’s Hoy, DeskEco in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Food Today online magazine in Egypt. Elsewhere, World Food Safety Day was promoted by EchoSante in Gabon, The National Herald, the Statesman and Indian Express in India, the Malagasy news portal, Moov, Malaysia’s RadioAiFM, the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Igbo service in Nigeria, Portugal’s TSF radio news and Qatar’s And finally, Euronews in Romania, SA People News in South Africa, El Tiempo in Spain, Al Azmenah in Syria, TogoTopNews, United Arab Emirates-based Al Ain and the Vatican News service all promoted World Food Safety Day.

Across the Caribbean subregion, online and print newspapers carried the messages disseminated by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), including the Antigua Newsroom and the Guyana Chronicle. In Chad, Télévision Tchad24 gave voice to the Manager of the Cabinet d’Expertise Six Sigma, Sylvain Adembeye, and in China Macao SAR, the Government Municipal Affairs Bureau IAM TV news covered World Food Safety Day. Togo’s Savoir News dedicated an article to the doubtful hygiene standards at many outlets of one of the nation’s favourite street foods, the Tchitchinga kebab. In Norway the Nationen published an opinion piece on foodborne antimicrobial resistance by Hanne Marte Vatnaland and Vidar Nedrebø and Tunisia’s La Presse expressed safety concerns over excessive use of agri-chemicals.

More national reporting
World Food Safety Day events organized in the Côte d’Ivoire by the Regional Centre of Excellence against Hunger and Malnutrition (CERFAM) and the University of Mauritius were covered by Business 24 Africa television news and Le Mauricien online news, respectively. An ongoing food safety project was promoted in Burkina Faso by Le Faso online news, and government agencies or ministries in Argentina, Germany, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia and Tanzania all used their websites to update citizens on their food safety work. In Angola, Fraternity – International Humanitarian Missions also updated interested parties on how it is promoting safe food through an article on their website.