Food safety and quality

One Health and food safety are intertwined and indivisible

03/11/2021

A veterinarian, a physician and an environmental scientist walk into a bar... It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but in reality, it could be the beginning of great idea. The causes of today’s most pressing problems - such as the climate crisis, hunger, poverty and pandemic disease - are extremely complex, and interrelated. 

With these words Jeffrey LeJeune, FAO Food Safety Officer, began to explain what One Health is all about and how it releates to food safety. One Health provides an opportunity for people of different sectors and disciplines to join together to promote better health for people, the planet and animals.

Here’s how LeJeune continued the explanation.

 

  • Why would you consider food safety a core tenet of One Health?

Take food security for example- to achieve it, we must ensure all people at all times have access to sufficient, nutritious and safe food. If it is not safe, it is not food. The way we choose to produce more food to meet the needs of a growing global population may impact the environment. Reciprocally, changes associated with climate may impact the safety of the food supply. Those who are sick from foodborne illness may not able to work and buy food. Moreover, today’s food systems - from production, harvest, processing, transport, storage and preparation - have become more complicated  than ever before. It is an intricate interplay of actions and activities that can tip the balance towards food that is safe and that which is not.

  • Who can help?

The solutions to protect the planet and its human and animal inhabitants are equally complex. No single group or individual has the capacity to resolve these entangled messes. Instead, finding ways to manage these problems, requires input from experts from multiple disciplines and sectors. In addition to the three professionals mentioned above, responses for today’s food safety threats need the work of epidemiologists, food engineers, behavioural scientists, microbiologists, data analysts and many more including ______ (insert your job title here).

  • What needs to be done?

The same type of thinking that got us into this predicament will not get us out. What is required is out-of-the-box thinking. That’s where One Health comes in: not only does it leverage the disciplinary expertise from a broad range of experts, but its interdisciplinary nature itself fosters innovation and new ideas. As you celebrate the potential of One Health to help address the world’s most wicked problems, think also of how you might encourage others to contribute to the cause.

 

One Health is an integrated approach for preventing and mitigating health threats at the animal-human-plant-environment interfaces. Food safety has a significant impact on human health, and food, which is essential for human survival, comes from plants and animals.

Read about FAO’s work on One Health: https://www.fao.org/one-health/en/

 

Photo: ©FAO/Luis Tato

Share this page