In essence, food safety is the absence of “hazards in food that may harm the health of consumers.” These hazards could be microbiological, chemical or even physical.
It can range from bacteria and viruses to pesticide residues. According to the United Nations, approximately 600m cases of foodborne illnesses are reported every year.
This not only affects our health as individuals, but also has an impact on economies and populations affected by conflict, poverty, and the like. The UN said in a statement that it’s a global problem:
“An estimated three million people around the world – in developed and developing countries – die every year from food and waterborne disease.”
Word Food Safety theme: Food safety is everyone’s business
The aim of this year’s theme is to urge consumers to recognise the issues; that how we produce, consume, store, and handle food affects our safety. That, however, is everyone’s responsibility.
According to the World Health Organization, about 420 000 out of the 600m reported cases of foodborne illnesses result in a loss of life.
Research shows that unsafe food also hinders development in low-income sectors. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva adds:
“Whether you are a farmer, farm supplier, food processor, transporter, marketer or consumer, food safety is your business. There is no food security without food safety.”
How to get involved in World Food Safety Day
There are several ways to inspire action when it comes to preventing, detecting and managing foodborne health risks. Moreover, the FAO created a guide with five steps on how to make a difference:
- Ensure it’s safe.
Governments 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 safely transported, stored and prepared.
- Check it’s safe.
Consumers also need access to timely, clear and reliable information about the nutritional and disease risks associated with their food choices.
- Team up for safety.
Governments, regional economic bodies, UN organisations, development agencies, trade organisations, consumer and producer groups, academic and research institutions and private sector entities must work together on food safety issues.