Sécurité sanitaire et qualité des aliments

Food safety measures part of response to COVID-19


Food safety is part of the response and recovery programme that FAO is planning to help countries stop the COVID-19 pandemic from disrupting food systems on which food security, health and livelihoods of many depend. FAO is calling on partners around the world – Members, the private sector, civil society, academia and cooperatives – to join forces to ensure safe and nutritious food for all during and after the pandemic. “Together, we can help protect the world’s most vulnerable, prevent further crises, increase resilience to shocks, and accelerate the rebuilding and sustainable transformation of our food systems,” the programme brochure states.

The Programme specifically mentions food safety in several of the seven key priority areas as “the pandemic has sharpened the focus on many contemporary issues, such as antimicrobial resistance, zoonotic diseases, climate change, food fraud and the digitalization of food systems, each with potentially significant implications for the safety of food,” according to the brief on food systems transformation. Strengthened capacity to enhance food safety and nutritional quality across food systems is among the expected results of that priority area of the Programme, which will promote a rethinking and expansion of food safety infrastructure, regulations and technologies.

Food safety will also be part of the innovations that the Programme pursues to boost capacity to reduce food loss and waste - from reformulating products and processing and preserving better quality, safe and nutritious food products to using traditional foods that are socially, economically and environmentally viable.

The Programme will seek to facilitate and accelerate food and agricultural trade through a set of initiatives centred on food safety standards, such as those set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. Food safety concerns that are not necessarily science-based (on the import side) and concerns about domestic food availability and market uncertainty (on the export side) have prompted recent trade restrictions, which have exacerbated the situation and caused disruptions in supply chains.

“Therefore, to mitigate the impacts of shocks, such as COVID-19, instead of restricting trade, it is actually crucial to facilitate and enhance trade, both within and among regions, and improve access to markets,” the brief on trade and food safety standards asserts.

Preventing the next zoonotic pandemic will involve strengthening and extending the One Health approach like that used in food safety, another brief explains. A multi-disciplinary One Health approach – to promote human, animal and environmental health – is essential to preventing, detecting and responding to emerging and resurgent zoonotic diseases.

FAO is calling for USD 1.3 billion in initial investments to provide an agile and coordinated global response to ensure safe, nutritious food for all both during and after the pandemic. Its holistic COVID-19 Response and Recovery Programme is designed to proactively and sustainably address the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic. While mitigating the immediate impacts of the pandemic, the Programme aims to strengthen the long-term resilience of food systems and livelihoods.

Read more:

FAO’s work related to COVID-19: http://www.fao.org/2019-ncov/en/

Q&A on COVID-19 and food safety: http://www.fao.org/2019-ncov/q-and-a/food-safety/en/

COVID-19 and Food Safety: Guidance for competent authorities responsible for national food safety control systems (FAO and WHO): http://www.fao.org/3/ca8842en/ca8842en.pdf

COVID-19 and Food Safety: Guidance for food businesses: interim guidance (FAO and WHO): http://www.fao.org/3/ca8660en/CA8660EN.pdf

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