A pivotal moment demanding urgent action on ‘Food Safety’: Unsafe food is unacceptable

The First FAO/WHO/AU International Food Safety Conference started today in Addis Ababa in Mandela hall of the African Union Headquarters conference center. This joint conference brought together Ministers of Health, Ministers of Agriculture, leading scientific experts, partner agencies as well as representatives of consumers, food producers and distributors.
Participants of the First FAO/WHO/AU International Food Safety Conference

The conference aimed to identify key actions and strategies to address current and future challenges to food safety globally and to strengthen commitment at the highest political level to scale up food safety in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Unsafe food causes an estimated 600 million people to suffer from foodborne diseases each year, at a cost of at least US$100 billion in low- and middle-income countries, over half of which is recorded in just 28 nations. But efforts to strengthen food safety systems globally are fragmented, despite food safety playing a fundamental role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Participants attending the First FAO/WHO/AU International Food Safety Conference Participants attending the First FAO/WHO/AU International Food Safety Conference Participants attending the First FAO/WHO/AU International Food Safety Conference

“It is unacceptable that unsafe safe food is responsible for hundred thousands of death every year. Food safety has not yet received the political attention it deserves.” said H.E. Dr Tedros adhanom, WHO Director General speaking on the opening of the conference. Dr Tedros also added that Improving food safety in countries requires sustained investments in several areas, from stronger regulation, to better laboratories, more stringent surveillance and better training, education and combating antimicrobial resistance in the food chain.

Finally he concluded his speech by flagging the importance of sharing experiences, to understand problems and identify solutions, the need to create strong networks within and between countries, and within and between sectors as well as to find innovative mechanism for investing in food safety in a sustainable way and mentioned such gathering is an opportunity to lay the foundations for that mechanism.

This is a pivotal moment demanding urgent international reflection on actions needed to bolster food safety. Priorities will be discussed so that food safety strategies and approaches can be aligned across sectors and borders, reinforcing efforts to reach the Sustainable Development Goals and supporting the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition. It is also expected that a high-level political statement would be adopted as an outcome of this conference to advocate for increased and better coordinated collaboration, technical support and investment to improve food safety globally.

The workshop will continue till tomorrow, 13th February 2019 and some of the key issues that would be addressed includes the benefits of investing in safe food; safe and sustainable food systems in the context of a changing climate; science, innovation and digital transformations for food safety; and empowering consumers to make healthy choices and support sustainable food systems.

This First International Food Safety Conference, hosted jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the African Union (AU) and it will be followed by the International Forum on Food Safety and Trade, to be organized by FAO, WHO and WTO in Geneva from 23-24 April 2019.

Related Links:
Conference website: https://www.who.int/food-safety/international-food-safety-conference/
WHO food safety fact sheet: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/food-safety
FAO food safety and quality: http://www.fao.org/food-safety/en/  
#FoodSafety, @FAOnews, @FAO, @WHO, @_AfricanUnion

For Further information and interview contact:
Dr Svetlana Akselrod,
Assistant Diretor-General, WHO Head Quarter
Mobile +41(0)227913500
Email: akselrods [at] who.int

Paul Garwood
Communications officer
World Health Organization
Mob: +41-796037294
Email: garwoodp [at] who.int

Selamawit Yilma
Communications Officer
WHO Ethiopia
Mob. +251911671134
yilmas [at] who.int
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