First FAO/WHO/AU International Food Safety Conference, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 12-13 February 2019 and FAO/WHO/WTO International Forum on Food Safety and Trade, Geneva, Switzerland, 23-24 April 2019

Transforming knowledge into action for people, economies and environment

The United Nations are organising two high level meetings to discuss the future of food safety and how to best transform knowledge into action for people, economies and environment http://www.who.int/food-safety/international-food-safety-conference. At the First FAO/WHO/AU International Food Safety Conference, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 12-13 February 2019, priorities will be discussed so that food safety strategies and approaches can be aligned across sectors and borders, reinforcing efforts to reach the Sustainable Development Goals and supporting the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition. The FAO/WHO/WTO International Forum on Food Safety and Trade, Geneva, Switzerland, 23-24 April 2019, will address the trade-related aspects and challenges of food safety. The two meetings will result in a high-level political statement advocating for increased and better coordinated collaboration and support to improve food safety globally.

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.

Ongoing changes in climate, global food production and supply systems affect consumers, industry and the planet itself. These changes can have an impact on food safety systems and pose sustainability and development challenges. This is a pivotal moment demanding urgent reflection on actions needed to bolster food safety - the impetus for the two international meetings.

The objectives of the meetings are: 1) Identify key actions and strategies to address current and future challenges to food safety globally. 2) Strengthen commitment at the highest political level to scale up food safety in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In Addis Ababa strategic actions will be defined through Ministerial panels involving health, trade and agriculture officials and experts thematic sessions covering the topics of:

  • the burden of foodborne diseases and the benefits of investing in safe food;
  • safe and sustainable food systems in an era of accelerated climate change;
  • science, innovation and digital transformation at the service of food safety;
  • empowering consumers to make healthy choices and support sustainable food systems.

Continuing the discussions from the Addis Conference, the Geneva Forum will address the trade-related aspects and challenges of food safety. The food safety priorities set by this Conference will facilitate global collaboration and help ensure that no one is left behind.

The meetings are motivated by issues concerning people, economies and the environment:

PEOPLE

  • More than 600 million people fall ill and 420 000 die every year as a result of eating food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins and chemicals.
  • Investment in consumer food safety education has the potential to reduce foodborne disease and return savings of up to ten-fold for each dollar invested.
  • As growing urbanization, changing purchasing power and new systems of marketing alter food access and consumption patterns, consumers need to be empowered to make nutritious and safe food choices.

ECONOMIES

  • Recent estimates indicate that the impact of unsafe food costs low- and middle income economies around US$ 95 billion in lost productivity each year.
  • Food safety is a critical enabler for market access and productivity, which drives economic development and poverty alleviation, especially in rural areas.
  • By 2050, two out of three people will live in megacities (10 million residents or more): adequate investment is needed to address challenges with food distribution, sanitation and hygiene, food waste and water scarcity.

THE ENVIRONMENT

  • Climate change is associated with altered geographic occurrence and prevalence of food safety hazards, leading to changed patterns of pathogens and mycotoxins, marine biotoxins and heavy metals (e.g. cadmium, mercury) contaminating food.
  • Improving hygiene practices in the food and agricultural sectors helps to reduce the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance along the food chain and in the environment.

Who will attend:

  • Ministers from relevant sectors (Agriculture/Fishery, Health, Food Security, Tourism and Trade) and representatives of national governments from all regions of the world;
  • Delegations from regulatory bodies, UN organizations, development agencies, regional economic bodies;
  • Non-State actors: consumers and producers groups, civil society, academic and research institutions and private sector entities.

Contact:
FAO: Food Safety and Quality Unit, Rome, Italy, food-quality [at] fao [dot] org
WHO: Food Safety and Zoonoses Department, Geneva, Switzerland, foodsafety [at] who [dot] int

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