Food safety and quality

Improving the health of humans, plants, animals and the environment


Four international organizations have formulated an action plan to sustainably balance and optimize the health of humans, animals, plants and ecosystems – which includes strengthening food safety as one of the six interdependent action tracks. On 17 October 2022, FAO, together with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH, founded as OIE) and the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the One Health Joint Plan of Action (2022–2026).

The document will help guide the four organizations, or ‘Quadripartite’, in promoting a collaborative approach, involving various sectors, disciplines and communities worldwide to better prevent, predict, detect and respond to health threats and improve the health of humans, animals, plants and the environment while contributing to sustainable development. Fostering well-being and tackling threats to health and ecosystems will help address the collective need for clean water, energy and air, safe and nutritious food.

“When we drink and eat, we intentionally introduce bits of our environment – such as water and plant and animal-based food products – into our bodies,” said Jeffrey LeJeune, FAO Food Safety Officer, noting one of the ways we are directly exposed to these external elements among which we all live. “As such, food safety is a core tenet of One Health,” he added.

The document calls for promoting awareness of food safety issues, making policy changes and coordinating action among stakeholders so that people, animals and the environment remain healthy in their interactions with and along the food supply chain.

The goals of the Food Safety Action Track are to strengthen the risk analysis framework for food safety through building capacity for increased participation by diverse stakeholders in process of food safety risk assessment, risk management and risk communication. Specifically, this includes activities such as surveillance and research on foodborne disease (risk assessment); improving national food control systems, grounded in science and data from multiple disciplines and sectors and strengthen in-country food safety capacity through training and infrastructure development (risk management); and enhancing communication by preparing better for food safety crisis situations, and foodborne disease prevention messaging, all under the One Health umbrella.

“The ways in which food is produced may not only affect the safety of the final product, but also the health and welfare of animals, the health of plants and the contamination of the environment. Reciprocally, the environment of food production and the health of animals and the contamination of plants may impact food safety,” according to the document, which explains that is why a One Health approach is critical to addressing food safety, and, in turn, food safety is critical to promoting One Health.

The joint plan of action provides a framework and proposes a set of activities the four organizations can offer together to advance and sustainably scale up One Health.

Access the One Health Joint Plan of Action, 2022–2026

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