First-ever World Food Safety Day on 7 June makes ensuring safe and nutritious food for all 'everyone's business'

On 7 June 2019, the United Nations will be observing the inaugural World Food Safety Day after it was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2018. The initiative is themed ‘Food safety, everyone’s business’ this year, highlighting that access to safe and nutritious food is the shared responsibility of governments, producers as well as individuals. The first observation of Food Safety Day this year includes a launch event in New York with a panel discussion, remarks by various experts on food safety and an interactive dialogue with panel members.

 First-ever World Food Safety Day on 7 June makes ensuring safe and nutritious food for all everyones business

Ensuring safe food for all. Screenshot from WHO website

Food safety is the handling, preparing and storing food in a way to best reduce the risk of individuals becoming sick from foodborne illnesses. These substances include micro-organisms, pesticide residue, or antibiotics, none of which are visible to the naked eye. This latest initiative by the UN aims to tackle the hazards presented by these threats to food safety that could result in food and water-borne diseases.

Why is this initiative important?

With an estimated 600 million cases of the food-borne disease annually, it is integral to tackle the issue of food safety. It is linked to many other factors that are important to development, including many of the Sustainable Development Goals. The initiative links to the Sustainable Development Goals put forth by the UN, particularly the following:

  • Goal 2— to end hunger, all forms of malnutrition, and double agricultural productivity
  • Goal 3 — to prevent diseases and improve health and wellbeing for all
  • Goal 12 — to move towards sustainable practices of consumption and production
  • Goal 17 — strengthen global partnerships (including trade laws) to grow sustainably

Measures being taken worldwide to improve food safety

Many multinational food corporations take strong measures to ensure the safety of their food products. This includes safety assessments at every step in the manufacturing process be it in using high-quality raw materials, in hygienic preparation or safe transport of food products for distribution.

Many governments worldwide are also taking measures to promote food safety in their respective countries. In the USA, for instance, the Food and Drug Administration agency that enforces rules to make food safe and minimise the risk of contamination. India has an autonomous body known as the Food Safety and Standards Association of India which regulates the food manufacturing processes of organisations around the country to encourage food safety.

How can you get involved?

Keeping with the theme of the event, it is integral for everyone to get involved and be a part of the change that tackles this issue. The World Health Organisation (WHO) details a few simple ‘keys’ to reduce the risk of contaminated food at an individual level. These include maintaining hygiene by regularly washing hands and sanitising equipment and kitchen surfaces. Raw and cooked food should always be kept separately so that micro-organisms from the raw food do not spread to the sterile, cooked food. Food should be cooked thoroughly at high temperatures to kill pathogens and make it safer for consumption. Cooked food should be stored at safe temperatures to ensure that it remains safe for consumption. Water and raw materials being used should always come from safe sources, having minimal contamination.

Marking an international day to shed light on this topic gives the UN a platform to raise awareness on a global scale, but also inspire collective action on the issue as effectively as possible.

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Updated Date: Jun 06, 2019 16:14:29 IST