Food standards save lives
World Food Safety Day on 7 June 2023 will draw attention to food standards. Every year, foodborne diseases affect 1 in 10 people worldwide. In the Western Pacific Region, more than 125 million people fall ill and more than 50 000 die annually from unsafe food. Of those who fall ill, an estimated 40 million are children under the age of 5. These are preventable deaths.
Under the theme, “Food standards save lives”, this year’s World Food Safety Day will draw attention to how food standards ensure what we eat is safe. Food standards are a way of ensuring safety and quality. They provide guidance on hygienic food handling for farmers and processors. They define the maximum levels of additives, contaminants, residues of pesticides and veterinary drugs that can safely be consumed by all. Furthermore, standards specify how the food should be measured, packaged and transported to keep it safe. Thanks to the application of standards on things like nutrition and allergen labelling, consumers can know whether the food will be good for them.
Countries and regions develop and adopt food standards to address biological, chemical, and physical hazards. The standards can be developed by national governments or by regional or intergovernmental standard-setting bodies such as the Codex Alimentarius.
The Codex Alimentarius operates with a mandate to protect consumer health and ensure good practices in the food trade, and its standards guide national food safety legislation and serve as benchmarks for the World Trade Organization. In the Western Pacific region, support is provided to the regional Coordinating Committee for Asia and Coordinating Committee for North America and the South West Pacific. As Codex turns 60 in 2023, we celebrate the importance of food standards in defining the path to safe food for everyone everywhere.
Promoting food safety makes a difference. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of policymakers, food safety authorities, farmers, food business operators, cooks, scientists, teachers, students, and consumers, awareness about food safety is increasing. The four observances of World Food Safety Day so far have seen growth in the number, impact, and level of engagement of activities held.
Remember: Food safety is everyone’s business, no matter who you are or what you do, you play an important role in making sure food is safe to eat.
Calls for Action
Make safe food an easy choice by shaping public support programmes, such as food aid, school feeding and other publicly owned food outlets.
Focus on establishing robust national food safety system and ensure it complies or harmonized with international food safety standards.
Encourage and engage in multisectoral collaboration at the local, national, regional and global levels.
- Ensure the food control systems are fit for purpose, in developing international food safety and quality standards.
- Ensure the government policies include standards aimed at safeguarding your nation’s food supply.
- Promote dialogue along the food supply chains to ensure good practices are upheld from the field to the table.
- Engage employees, suppliers and other stakeholders to grow and develop a food safety culture.
- Comply with national and international food standards.
- Make sure the consumers and food industry workers are aware of the rules and regulations in place.
Educational institutions and workplaces
- Promote safe food handling.
- Engage with families and involve them in food safety activities.
- Support food safety education.
- Practice safe food handling at home and follow WHO’s Five Keys to Safer Food: keep clean, separate raw and cooked, cook thoroughly, keep food at safe temperatures and use safe water and raw materials.
- Keep informed and promote food safety.
- Learn about food safety and join the #WorldFoodSafetyDay campaign.