The World Health Organization marks the second global World Food Safety Day saying: foodborne diseases can cause illness, disability and deaths and are a significant public health concern in the WHO European Region. It is estimated that every year, 23 million people fall ill and approximately 4700 people die from consuming contaminated food. In addition to being a threat to human health, unsafe food also plays a fundamental role in the socioeconomic development of countries as it affects international trade and market opportunities.
“Food safety is a complex health issue and is everyone’s business,” highlights Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “Food safety risks cannot be entirely eliminated but must be managed along the entire food chain, from farm to table. Reducing food safety risks requires collaboration across sectors, stakeholders and national borders.”
This year’s World Food Safety Day falls in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis. While the crisis rightfully requires high-level attention by governments, businesses and the public, the European Region cannot afford to lose its focus on other health threats and must continue to improve food safety. This must include:
- leadership and high-level commitment by policy-makers
- coordination and partnerships across sectors, stakeholders and countries
- allocation of adequate resources
- responsibility by all concerned to do what it takes to make food safe.