World Health Day: the reaction

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Reaction to WHO's World Health Day on the theme of food safety
Reaction to WHO's World Health Day on the theme of food safety

Related tags: Food safety, World health organization

Reaction has continued to flood in to mark World Health Day on the theme of food safety – FoodQualityNews brings you some of it that did not make our special focus edition on April 7.

The EU Commission, FAO, ISO, PricewaterhouseCoopers, USDA-FSIS and the CFIA feature.

European angle

Vytenis Andriukaitis, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said it is a topic that reminds people that all too often food safety is taken for granted.

EU Commission WHD WHO
Photo: EU Commission

“Europe should be proud that its 500 million consumers benefit from the highest food safety standards in the world and that many other countries take them as the norm to be followed,” ​he said.

“However, with the globalisation of trade in food, maintaining food safety and hygiene standards whilst providing non-EU countries access to our market is more important than ever.”

Neven Mimica, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, said many challenges lie ahead.

“We remain committed to working with international partners, as well as EU Member States, to tackle new and emerging threats. The Commission joins the World Health Organisation in calling for strengthened efforts to secure the highest possible levels of health protection and food safety throughout the world,” ​he said.

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the Union Nations, called for unified efforts to ensure that production, distribution, and preparation of food is done safely.

“The health, agriculture, trade, and environment sectors need to work together. We all have a role to play in keeping food safe – from farm to plate,” ​he said.

With the food supply chain stretching around the world, the need to strengthen food safety systems within and among countries is becoming more critical​.”

Food safety is a shared responsibility; it relies on everyone involved in the chain (agricultural production, processing, transport, food production and consumption), said the European Food Information Council (EUFIC).

It said there were five important messages: keep clean, separate raw and cooked, cook thoroughly, keep food at safe temperatures and use safe water and raw materials.

FoodDrinkEurope said its members have procedures in place to ensure all products on the market meet the highest standards, most recent certification schemes and latest legal requirements.

This includes work on ingredients, on materials which are in contact with food, on possible contaminants and on allergens. Europe’s food is considered as one of the safest in the world and it must remain so.”

ANSES reminded consumers they have an important role to play in food safety.

There has been an increase in eating raw meat- and fish-based dishes, marinated or prepared Japanese-style (tartares, carpaccio, sushi), which requires special care regarding the origin, freshness and preparation of foods, said the agency.

33% of food poisoning outbreaks reported in France occurred within a family setting in 2012, it said.

International view

ISO WHD campaign
ISO campaign poster - food safety

The International Standards Organization (ISO) said food moves from country to country everyday as it is produced and then consumed.

It launched a social media campaign through six posters on food safety to raise awareness of the importance of standards.

ISO said its standards promote quality and safety of food, efficiency of the supply chain from farm to fork and help prevent diseases, detect bacteria and manage risk.

From agricultural producers to food manufacturers, labs, regulators, consumers, standards ensure the same recipe is used when it comes to food quality, safety and efficiency, it added.

Renata Clarke, chief of FAO’s Food Safety and Quality Unit, said it was appropriate that the day shined a spotlight on food safety.

“Ensuring food safety is an essential step towards achieving food security as it contributes to consumer protection and public health. So, we cannot achieve food security without food safety,” ​she said.

“When the entire food chain is understood and protected, it not only safeguards the health and well-being of people but also fosters economic development and improves livelihoods by promoting access to domestic, regional and international markets.”

Craig Armitage, global food supply and integrity services leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers, revealed the launch of its global food supply and integrity services business.

Our view is we need to prepare for more of the same food challenges as basic fundamentals of trade and supply are transformed and megatrends, such as booming population growth and climate change, amplify their impacts on our businesses and everyday lives through the food we produce, sell and eat,” ​he said.

“Today, problems can turn up in more products, more quickly than ever before, causing food safety scandals that threaten large numbers of people.It’s a public health concern, a significant political issue and a substantial risk for food companies and governments that get it wrong.”

Americas approach

Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization, regional office of the World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), said in any given year one in four people in the Americas suffers from food poisoning.

Carissa Etienne PAHO
Carissa Etienne of PAHO/WHO

“We promote the necessary laws and regulations, and strengthen food inspection and surveillance systems to ensure they are effective and cover the entire food chain, from farm to plate,” ​she said.

“But while industry and regulatory systems are primarily responsible for these processes, we all have a role to play in ensuring food safety. We need to adhere to the same food safety standards at home that we expect everyone else along the food chain to practice.”

Al Almanza, administrator of the USDA’s FSIS, said the US has seen a decrease in the number of foodborne illnesses with 50,000 fewer reported illnesses than in 2007.

“We are committed to using an inspection system based in science—science that derives from the work of researchers and public health experts.  It is important to remember how far we’ve come, but our work is not done.

“Last week, FSIS released its new FoodKeeper smart phone application. The FoodKeeper application offers users valuable storage advice about nearly 500 food and beverage items. By providing information on proper storage times and cooking tips, FSIS can help consumers protect themselves and their loved ones from foodborne illness.”

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) invested $30.7m to establish the Food Safety Information Network (FSIN).

Federal partners include the CFIA, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

The FSIN will be implemented incrementally over five years and will standardize food safety testing with existing laboratory capacity.  

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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