The First International Food Safety Conference was recently held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Speakers called for more international cooperation to stop unsafe food from causing illnesses.

As a result of this conference, the WTO & WHO will host a follow-up event, the International Forum on Food Safety and Trade, which will focus on the connections between food safety and trade, in Geneva, Switzerland, April 23-24.

WHO says the two meetings are expected to build support and lead to actions on food safety around the world. With the high number of outbreaks occuring worldwide, such conferences ar elong overdue.

Food that is contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins, or chemicals causes illness to more than 600 million people each year and kills 420,000 worldwide every year, according to the agency, which reported that participants in the conference contended food safety must be a paramount goal at every stage of the food chain.

how does food get contaminated?

Approximately 130 countries took part in the two-day conference, including ministers of agriculture, health, and trade, scientific experts, partner agencies, and representatives of consumers, food producers, civil society organizations, and the private sector.

This joint conference will bring together Ministers of Health, Ministers of Agriculture, leading scientific experts, partner agencies as well as representatives of consumers, food producers and distributors to:

  • Identify key actions and strategies to address current and future challenges to food safety globally;
  • Strengthen commitment at the highest political level to scale up food safety in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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 international reflection on actions needed to bolster food safety, which will start in Addis Ababa and continue in Geneva. 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 First FAO/WHO/AU International Conference on Food Safety is being held ahead of the International Forum on Food Safety and Trade, organized by FAO, WHO and WTO in Geneva on 23-24 April 2019.