The first-ever World Food Safety Day, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2018, is being celebrated Friday, June 7, 2019 under the theme "Food Safety, everyone's business." The World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) facilitated its member states effort to celebrate the World Food Safety Day this year and in coming years.
According to WHO, access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food is key to sustaining life and promoting good health. Foodborne diseases impede socioeconomic development by straining health care systems and harming national economies, tourism and trade. With an estimated 600 million cases of foodborne diseases annually – almost one in 10 people in the world fall ill after eating contaminated - food safety is an increasing threat to human health. Children under five years of age carry 40% of the foodborne disease burden with 125 000 deaths every year.
Food safety is key to achieving several UN Sustainable Development Goals and is a shared responsibility between governments, producers, and consumers. Everyone has a role to play from farm to table to ensure the food we consume is safe and will not cause damages to our health. Through the World Food Safety Day, WHO pursues its efforts to mainstream food safety in the public agenda and reduce the burden of foodborne diseases globally.
According to CDC, the United States imports about 15% of its food supply from more than 200 countries or territories. Americans want convenience, choice, and diversity in the foods we eat. Imported food helps meet these demands. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with partners around the globe to help keep the world’s food supply safer for everyone.
As food production becomes more globalized, the path food travels from farm to table grows more complex. Much of the food we eat in the United States is transported over long distances and distributed across wide areas. For example, about one-third of the fresh vegetables Americans eat and half of the fresh fruits are grown in other countries. Many fruits and vegetables that were once available only during certain seasons are now offered year-round because of imports. The seafood on our tables is even more global. Each year 85%–95% of seafood eaten in the United States is imported.
The globalization of food creates new challenges for food safety. Germs can contaminate food at any point along the production chain—while growing on the farm, during harvesting, during transport and distribution, or at a grocery store. If food becomes contaminated anywhere in the production process, people may get sick when they eat it.
Because of the worldwide distribution of many foods, a single point of contamination can make people sick in different parts of the country or even the world. In the summer of 2017, CDC’s PulseNet system detected a Salmonella outbreak that had made dozens of people sick across several states. CDC and its federal and state partners launched an investigation to find out what contaminated food was making people sick. The investigation eventually linked 220 illnesses in 23 states to Maradol papayas from a single farm in Mexico, which led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to increase testing of papaya shipments from Mexico. This Salmonella outbreak was one of four in the United States linked to imported Maradol papayas in 2017.
Safe food is a shared global responsibility. The safety of the U.S. food supply depends on the effectiveness of food safety systems in other countries to ensure that imported products are safe. The FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are working to strengthen the international food safety system by making sure imported foods meet the same safety standards as foods produced in the United States. CDC also works with international health authorities to share information on foodborne outbreaks in the United States that may affect other countries. CDC and global partners are working together to protect global food.
Source: WHO, CDC