There are around 600 million cases of foodborne disease around the world every year. In low- and middle- income countries, these also cause a massive economic burden, costing at least US$100 billion annually. The emerging challenges that come with climate change and new technologies are adding to the ill-effects: global food production and supply systems are increasingly under threat, and vulnerable and marginalised groups, such as women, children and migrants, are disproportionately affected.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), committed to by 193 UN countries are a plan for how to achieve a more sustainable and better future for everyone. This encompasses food safety in particular through Goals 2, 3, 8, 12, 13 and 17:
Goal 2: Zero hunger
Goal 3: Good health and well-being
Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth
Goal 12: Responsible production and consumption
Goal 13: Climate action
Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals
Despite this connection between the SDGs and food safety, the problem is only increasing. In light of this, the first ever International Food Safety Conference was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 12-13 February, hosted jointly by the World Health Organization (WHO), the African Union, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO). The event brought together Health and Agriculture Ministers from across the globe, with the aims of:
- Identifying key actions and strategies to address current and future challenges to food safety globally; and
- Strengthening commitment at the highest political level to scale up food safety in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
At the conference, participants emphasised several issues, including in particular how to integrate food safety in national and regional policies. The need to combat antimicrobial resistance through ensuring more careful use of antimicrobials in animal plant production was also emphasised. Additionally, it was committed by all to take actions to ensure everyone everywhere would be able to benefit from technological and food sciences developments.
The commitments from this Conference will be followed up on at the upcoming International Forum for Food Safety and Trade, to be held in Geneva from 23-24 April 2019.
Did you know?
POLHN offers a number of free self-paced courses relating to food safety. These include: