Food safety and quality

Food Systems Solutions Webinar series features food safety standards


A webinar on 11 May 2023 provided insights into how countries and international organizations can ensure that food labels and standards contribute to sustainable agrifood systems. Food labelling, which helps protect consumer health by providing safety and good nutrition information, was highlighted as one of the tools for transforming agrifood systems, along with standards, in the webinar convened by the UN Food Systems Coordination Hub.

The keynote speaker, Renate Künast, Member of the German Bundestag and former Minister of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture, shared three examples of using a systematic approach to instigate change: labels on food products that provide details on organic farming or animal husbandry (pigs, initially) in Germany and on organic farming in India. Through the examples, Künast illustrated how using multiple tools and taking a long-term approach can instigate change.

The panel featuring Vittorio Fattori, FAO Food Safety Officer, Pilar Santacoloma, FAO Nutrition Officer, and Katrin Engelhardt, WHO Technical Officer, was moderated by Nicole De Paula, FAO Senior SDGs Expert, and delved into a discussion about how international standards are developed, the role of science in that process and how standards can support the transition to more sustainable agrifood systems.

Fattori explained that the international food standards contained in the Codex Alimentarius are developed through an inclusive process that involves Member countries and Observer organizations. “Codex sets international standards based on a common ground, that of science, evidence and data,” he said, adding that FAO and the World Health Organization run a joint Scientific Advice Programme that advises the Codex Alimentarius Commission on issues like pesticide residues, veterinary drug residues and food additives.

Looking to the future, Fattori noted that foresight is an important tool that countries can use to understand how different global drivers may affect food safety. “As agrifood systems transform to meet the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, there is a need to develop and maintain a deep understanding of the opportunities, threats and challenges ahead of us,” he said. “Using this anticipatory approach will support strategic preparedness through long-term thinking and inform a more proactive decision-making process on emerging issues,” he concluded.

This webinar is part of a series led by the UN Food Systems Coordination Hub. The next one will be on 15 June, when the focus will be on planetary health.

Read more about the FAO Scientific Advice Programme and Foresight in food safety

Read more about the Food Systems Solutions Webinar series

Photo: © FAO/Mia Rowan

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