World Food Safety Day is observed each year on June 7th to raise awareness at all levels and promote actions for global food safety. Since we all rely on food for survival, the day focuses on mitigating the risks of foodborne illnesses, including ways to detect, prevent and manage them. So, what is the history behind the day and the theme of World Food Safety Day 2021?
History of World Food Safety Day
For decades, the World Health Organization (WHO) has studied and reported the global burden of foodborne illnesses, affecting individuals of all ages. However, they are particularly burdensome on individuals in low-income countries and children under five.
In December 2018, cognizant of the urgent need to raise awareness and ensure global food safety, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly designated June 7th as World Food Safety Day. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and WHO jointly facilitate the observance of the day, in association with the Member States and other related organizations.
World Food Safety Day was founded mainly to draw attention to the contamination of food and water, the people it impacts and ways to reduce risks. Since the day was created, WHO has further passed a resolution to reduce the burden of foodborne illness and strengthen food safety efforts worldwide.
Theme and Significance
Each year, World Food Safety has a theme, and this year’s theme is ‘safe food today for a healthy tomorrow.’ The theme focuses on producing and consuming safe food and sharing its benefits on people, animals, the environment, and the economy. Recognizing the systemic connections between them and meeting the terms laid out in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals will help meet the food safety needs of the future, the FAO suggests.
WHO’s website also declared five calls to action for this year’s World Food Safety Day:
- “Ensure it’s safe – Government 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 safe
- Know what’s safe – Consumers need to learn about safe and healthy food
- Team up for food safety – Work together for safe food and good health”
The day will also highlight how the COVID-19 pandemic has sharpened the focus on food safety-related topics. While COVID-19 has not been transmitted by food, it has called attention to issues including hygiene, food fraud, antimicrobial resistance, zoonotic diseases, climate change and potential benefits of digitizing global food systems.
The pandemic has also brought to light the weaknesses of global food supply chains, specifically in production and transportation. In the era of COVID-19 and the ongoing age of foodborne illnesses, minimizing disruptions in the supply chain remains the best bet for consumers to have access to reliable food.
This year, the FAO and WHO, in collaboration with other organizations, including the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Codex Secretariat, will host regional online food safety events and virtual meetings.