FAO in Indonesia

Saving Lives with Safer Food


Today, on June 7, the world will celebrate the first-ever World Food Safety Day.

Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2018, the UN has designated two of its agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to lead and support efforts in promoting food safety globally and today will celebrate this first World Food Safety Day under the theme "Food Safety, everyone's business".

Food safety is the absence of hazards in food that may harm the health of consumers. Food-borne hazards can be microbiological, chemical or physical in nature and are often invisible to the eye. Bacteria, viruses and pesticide residues are some common examples of food-borne hazards.

As a middle-income country, with an increasing population of 260 million, Indonesian consumers represent a huge market for an already large and fast-growing food industry which is comprised of “ready to eat” food businesses, restaurants, supermarkets, catering, and large numbers of street food vendors.

The main elements in the Indonesian food chain range from domestic agriculture producers and food importers through distributors to the various points of sale and finally to consumers. The complex and rapidly changing ways in which food is available and accessed by consumers brings great challenges to the policy-makers to ensure food safety in every step of the food chain.

“FAO is committed for a world without hunger. Making sure that food is safe is very important in our agenda. The industry has a critical role in assuring that food stays safe at every stage of the food from production to consumer,” said Stephen Rudgard, FAO Representative in Indonesia while marking World Food Safety Day.

With an estimated 600 million cases of foodborne illnesses annually worldwide, unsafe food is a threat to human health and to economies, disproportionally affecting vulnerable and marginalized people (especially women and children), populations affected by conflict, and migrants. An estimated three million people around the world -- in both developed and developing countries -- die every year from food and waterborne disease.

WHO Representative for Indonesia, Dr. N. Paranietharan, echoed the importance of making safe food a priority and emphasized that “access to sufficient safe and nutritious food is key to living a healthier and more productive life. We can achieve this by making sure quality and consistently safe food is readily available for everyone.”

Food Safety situation in Indonesia

 In 2017, there were 163 outbreaks of foodborne disease across Indonesia according to the Directorate of Environmental Health and the Public Health Emergency Operation Center (PHEOC) of the Ministry of Health. This data shows that food poisoning outbreaks are a considerable public health problem in Indonesia.

Nationally, the roles and responsibilities in food safety are divided among a range of Indonesian Ministries and institutions, whether it is fresh food, processed food, or ready-to-eat food. The Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries are responsible for regulating fresh food, BPOM mainly controls processed food, the Ministry of Health and local health authorities look after ready-to-eat food, and then the Ministries of Trade, Industry, and others also have roles in food systems.

 Food Safety for Food and Nutrition Security

 Access to safe food is a basic human necessity, and is essential for food and nutrition security to be achieved. Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.

Unfortunately, poor sanitation and hygiene practices (including unsafe food) are a major cause of malnutrition in Indonesia.

Consumption of unsafe food leads to foodborne illnesses, which lead to malnutrition, due to nutrient loss and poor absorption capacity. Especially infants and young children are vulnerable to foodborne diseases. BPOM and the Ministry of Health, supported by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), have built the capacity of competent authorities on food safety to self-assess their food control systems.

Food safety is key to achieving several of the Sustainable Development Goals. Safe food contributes to economic prosperity, boosting agriculture, market access, tourism and sustainable development.