There Is No Food Security Without Food Safety
At the First International Food Safety Conference in Addis Ababa, being held February 12-13, food safety and security experts agreed that food safety is everyone's issue: there can be no food security without food safety. More than 700 delegates are attending the conference, organized by the African Union, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization.
The main goal of this conference is to bring together high-level actors from government (including ministers of agriculture, health and trade) and non-governmental organizations (including scientific experts, consumer representatives, food producers, civil society and the private sector) from both developed and developing countries to address current and future challenges to global food safety and strengthen commitment and international collaboration to improve global food safety, especially in developing countries.
The conference includes sessions on: a) the burden of foodborne diseases; b) climate change and safe food systems; c) food safety and science, innovation and digital transformation; d) the benefits of investing in sustainable food safety systems; and f) empowering consumers to make healthy choices. This conference will be followed by the International Forum on Food Safety and Trade, organized by FAO, WHO and WTO in Geneva on April 23-24, 2019.
According to WHO, foodborne diseases (caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites and toxic chemicals) have high negative impacts on global human health, with 600 million people getting sick and 420,000 people dying from unsafe food every year. Those statistics are similar to most dangerous diseases including malaria, AIDS, etc. About 98 percent of the burden falls to developing countries, affecting vulnerable and marginalized people, especially children under five years of age. In addition to the health burden, foodborne diseases have huge economic costs. According to the World Bank, the total cost of foodborne disease in developing countries is about $110 billion per year ($95.2 billion for productivity losses and $15 billion for treating foodborne illnesses).
More food safety conferences are needed where international food safety experts can discuss challenges and opportunities for global food safety systems.