CDV Global's Tilly Hazael discusses World Food Safety Day, on 7th June, a day in which we recognise the systemic links between the health of people, animals, plants and the environment to meet the needs of the future. This refers to looking at food safety from a holistic 'one health' approach; healthy plants and animals leads to productive agriculture resistant to zoonotic pathogens and other harmful animal to human transferrable diseases.
"Safe Food Now For A Healthy Tomorrow" - WHO 2021
World Food Safety Day was first adopted by the UN back in 2018 and is a collaboration between the WHO (World Health Organisation) and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) alongside numerous government agencies and supporting organisations. This year's theme focuses on food safety as essential for the health of people, the planet and the economy. In an ever-increasing globalised world, our international food supply chains have become more interconnected than ever. With events like the COVID-19 virus disrupting certain areas, such as supply chains, we are now more than ever aware of the precarity of food systems, including the safety of food at each stage of the process. From the farm to the table, we all have a vital role to play in guaranteeing food safety for both ourselves and others; Food safety is a collective responsibility!
"Food safety is everyone's business" - FAO 2021
Food safety is the collective responsibility of governments, producers and consumers. Although in the western world we have the capabilities to make decisions which promote safer food choice, many individuals in middle to low-income countries do not have such a luxury of choice. It is the simple things which many of us in the West overlook, such as having safe water to wash produce, and running electricity to store food correctly which many others in the world do not have access to. 1 in 10 people globally fall ill every year after eating contaminated food with around 420,000 of these cases being fatal. One of the largest groups affected are infants, who risk being unable to access food's nutritional growth and thus are at risk of underdevelopment and permanent disability. Such large numbers of foodborne illnesses (of which there are around 200 variants) also has devastating economic impacts, with $110 billion being lost every year in productivity and medical expenses as a result of unsafe food's devastating impact.
This mindset of having 'guaranteed food safety' is further demonstrated by the lack of reference to food safety in the sustainable development goals. It is touched on briefly in target 2.1 'UNIVERSAL ACCESS TO SAFE AND NUTRITIOUS FOOD' however, it is failed to be mentioned in any other targets despite being intrinsically woven into them. Food safety, nutrition and security are inextricably linked. There is no food security without guaranteed food safety first. In the past decade there have been foodborne disease outbreaks across every continent so how come it is not discussed to the degree that food security and supply is?
"Everyone cane contribute to making food safe" - WHO 2020
As a collective we need to work to ensure that consumers have the capacity to choose safe and healthy choices, across all walks of life. This means making food safety a priority across all of the stages of the food chain, from production to storage to eventual consumption. As food chains often extend over numerous international boundaries, global regulatory frameworks need to be strengthened such as through organisations such as the Codex Alimentarius Commission, who promote science-based international standards in a way that is both inclusive and transparent to help protect health whilst continuing to facilitate trade.
There is a continuous dialogue needed between the public and private sector to ensure food safety is a universal right as opposed to a geographically positioned luxury.
Here are the five calls to actions promoted by the WHO for this year's food safety awareness day:
Ensure it's safe – Government must ensure safe and nutritious food for all
Grow it safe – Agriculture and food producers need to adopt good practices
Keep it safe – Business operators must make sure food is safe
Know what's safe – Consumers need to learn about safe and healthy food
Team up for food safety – Let's work together for safe food and good health
So, what can you the individual do to help promote food safety this #WorldFoodSafetyDay?
Well as a consumer you have the power to make conscious decisions which promote safer food practices. Overall, there are 5 keys to safer food:
1.Keep food clean
2.Separate raw and cooked foods
4.Keep food at safe temperatures (1-5°C for fridges and -18°C for freezers)
5.Use safe water and raw materials
Other initiatives that can be taken include, avoiding damaged produce (I.e. bruised fruit or dented tins), regularly sanitising kitchen surfaces and washing your hands before and after handling produce.
However, food safety needs to be a universal condition to guarantee future sustainability.The key purpose of this day is to spread awareness of the risk food borne diseases has on people, the planet and the economy globally. The WHO has a number of initiatives to help spread awareness of such as combining healthy safe food and exercise through outdoor activities, sharing personal stories of health professionals and food workers and many more!
Here in the UK food safety education is woven into legislation in the form of the 1974 Health and Safety act, and commonly taught in the school curriculum. Unfortunately access to education surrounding food safety practices is not taught or understood to such degree elsewhere. Here at CDV Global we have partnered with the Human Development & Environment Conservation Center (HUDECC).Their aim is to create social change through the use of various multi-media channels in order to raise awareness for different health and social issues. One of their channels is a local community radio station that produces public service advisory notices on numerous topics for the local communities from topical issues such as Covid-19 to more ongoing issues including hygiene, food safety, sanitation etc.
Check out this link to the PDF to see how else you can spread awareness this #FoodSafetyDay!
And follow the link in the comments if you wish to help out via alternative methods which will have a long lasting impact!