Food safety and quality

New FAO Publication: Measuring food safety for sustainable development


Indicators are a tool to demonstrate progress and results achieved in various topics and disciplines. Food security indicators and global nutrition index are good examples, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have specific indicators to monitor progress. When it comes to food safety, it can be difficult to define quantifiable parameters that describe food safety, which instead is cross-cutting and often qualitative. Standardized sets of specific indicators may not be helpful to reflect the complex food safety situations in the different national contexts.

In April 2021, the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific published a booklet entitled “Measuring food safety – Indicators to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”. This concise guide aims to provide countries with technical and practical advice to develop national food safety indicators that serve country-specific objectives. The guide is in line with the strong request of the Members in the region, and addresses the reservations expressed from some who did not wish their food safety situations to be compared with those of other nations.

This voluntary guide is supplemented with various examples from pilot countries who reported that indicators helped reveal the realities of the national food control systems. The guide also illustrates many good practices and pitfalls that were realized through the pilot projects. For example, in one of the pilot countries, the process of measuring indicators was delegated to academic partners through a government-university partnership: this led to effective results in establishing the standard methodologies on how to use them, and to strengthened partnerships in food safety. In another pilot country, the number of reported cases of foodborne diseases was chosen as a quantifiable parameter, but this did not bring to a conclusive output: higher numbers of reported cases were associated with stronger surveillance. By reading the guide, food safety competent authorities will be equipped with the knowledge and experience-based tips to use national food safety indicators to improve food safety situations in their countries.

Download the publication - FAO Food safety toolkit booklet 9 – Measuring food safety – Indicators to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

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