On 20 December 2018 the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 73/250 proclaiming a World Food Safety Day. Starting in 2019, every 7 June will be a time to celebrate the myriad benefits of safe food.
Food safety is the absence -- or safe, acceptable levels -- 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 plain eye: bacteria, viruses or pesticide residues are some examples.
Food safety has a critical role in assuring that food stays safe at every stage of the food chain - from production to harvest, processing, storage, distribution, all the way to preparation and consumption.
With an estimated 600 million cases of foodborne illnesses annually, unsafe food is a threat to human health and economies, disproportionally affecting vulnerable and marginalized people, especially women and children, populations affected by conflict, and migrants. An estimated 420 000 people around the world die every year after eating contaminated food and children under 5 years of age carry 40% of the foodborne disease burden, with 125 000 deaths every year.
Food safety saves lives. It is not only a crucial component to food security, but it also plays a vital role in reducing foodborne disease. Every year, 600 million people fall sick as a result of around 200 different types of foodborne illness. The burden of such illness falls most heavily on the poor and on the young. In addition, foodborne illness is responsible for 420 000 preventable deaths every year.
When you eat, how do you know your food is safe?
You have probably washed your hands, cleaned your kitchenware and cooked your food to the right temperature, all good food safety practices. You have probably read food packaging labels to see what ingredients the product contains or how to cook it. And perhaps without realizing it, you have trusted everyone involved in growing, processing, packaging, distributing and preparing your food in the right way so that you can enjoy it without falling ill. Your food was safe and your trust justified because the people involved in making your food - whether close to your home or on the other side of the world - followed established food safety practices, which are transparently available in the form of standards. In other words, food standards form the bedrock of trust for all of us.
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.
Most governments and organizations adopt and enforce food standards that are based on scientific risk assessments, covering hazards that are biological, chemical and physical in nature. The standards can be developed by individual governments or organizations, or by regional or intergovernmental standard-setting bodies. One such international food safety and quality standard-setting body is the Codex Alimentarius Commission, or Codex for short. Codex is the place where representatives of 188 Member Countries and 1 Member Organization (the European Union) work together to make sure food is safe.
Codex operates with a mandate to protect consumer health and ensure fair practices in the food trade. Technical committees work to develop texts for standards, guidelines and codes of practice in a transparent and inclusive manner. Underpinned by scientific advice from global expert groups led by FAO and WHO, the texts are developed with input from 243 observer organizations, including industry and consumer associations.; Used by governments and the food industry, Codex standards guide national food safety legislation and ensure best practices. The World Trade Organization also uses Codex standards as benchmarks. If your food comes from abroad, it has to meet these standards. Codex standards are at the heart of food safety. They have been for six decades. Each year the‘food code’grows – new standards are introduced and existing standards are updated when new data becomes available. In 2023, as Codex turns 60, we celebrate food standards for defining the path to safe food for everyone everywhere.
Food safety is key to achieving several of the Sustainable Development Goals and World Food Safety Day brings it into the spotlight, to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks. Safe food contributes to economic prosperity, boosting agriculture, market access, tourism and sustainable development.
Source : UN
Last Modified : 6/6/2023
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