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Major International Conference On Growing Concern of Food Safety Begins Next Week

National Program Manager Betty-Ann Bryce joins U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) (Photo: USDA)
National Program Manager Betty-Ann Bryce joins U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) (Photo: USDA)

The conference will focus on how evolving food safety systems need to keep pace with how food is produced and consumed.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is organizing a major conference on food safety next week. The organization gave a brief summary of the event in an email released on Friday detailing the International Forum on Food Safety and Trade dialogue, “Co-organised by FAO, WHO, WTO and AU, this conference will bring together Ministers and representatives of national governments, non-state actor groups and policymakers from all regions of the world to engage in an urgent reflection on food safety challenges.”

An in-depth press release on February 12th of this year described the importance of the upcoming event.

Greater international cooperation is needed to prevent unsafe food from causing ill health and hampering progress towards sustainable development, world leaders said at today’s opening session of the First International Food Safety Conference, in Addis Ababa, organized by the African Union (AU), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

A follow-up event, the International Forum on Food Safety and Trade, which will focus on interlinkages between food safety and trade, is scheduled to be hosted by WTO in Geneva (23-24 April). The two meetings are expected to galvanize support and lead to actions in the key areas that are strategic for the future of food safety.

Food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins or chemicals causes more than 600 million people to fall ill and 420,000 to die worldwide every year. Illness linked to unsafe food overloads healthcare systems and damages economies, trade and tourism. The impact of unsafe food costs low- and middle-income economies around $95 billion in lost productivity each year. Because of these threats, food safety must be a paramount goal at every stage of the food chain, from production to harvest, processing, storage, distribution, preparation and consumption, conference participants stressed.

Purpose Of The International Food Safety Forum

“This food safety conference is a demonstration of this partnership. Without safe foods, it is not possible to achieve food security,” said AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat in February. “This conference is a great opportunity for the international community to strengthen political commitments and engage in key actions,” he continued. “We must all play our part. We must work together to scale up food safety in national and international political agendas.”

Approximately 130 countries are expected to participate in the two-day conference including leaders of agriculture, health, and trade communities.  While technology and processing methods add to food safety, nutrition, and trade — climate change and changing housing landscapes around the world present a challenge for food safety issues.

The conference will focus on how evolving food safety systems need to keep pace with how food is produced and consumed, according to the press release.

Who’s Taking Part?

Kazuaki Miyagishima Director, Food Safety and Zoonoses Department, WHO will moderate the pre-event “Estimation of the national burden of foodborne diseases – an investment for better food safety systems” on April 24th. Dr. Miyagishima studied medicine and received his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Tokyo. The keynote speaker of the section will be Barbara B. Kowalcyk Assistant Professor, Department of Food Science and Technology, Ohio State University.

Máximo Torero Cullen ADG (Academic Discourse Graduate), Economic and Social Development Department, FAO will moderate the “Food safety, healthy diets and trade” pre-event panel with Mario Mazzocchi, Erik Wijkstrom, and Angela Parry Hanson Kunadu.

José Graziano da Silva Director General of the Food and Agriculture of the FAO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Director General of the WHO, Roberto Azevêdo Director General of the WTO, Josefa Leonel Correia SACKO Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the AUC, and Monique Eloit Director General, World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) will all take part in the opening session on the 24th.

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Walter Yeates

Walter Yeates is a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter who embedded at Standing Rock with military Veterans and First People in December 2016. He covers a range of topics at Citizen Truth and is open for tips and suggestions. Twitter: www.twitter.com/GentlemansHall or www.twitter.com/SmoothJourno Muckrack: https://muckrack.com/walteryeates

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