Feed the Future
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Let's Talk About Food Safety for Enhancing Global Food Security and Development

Recently, food safety has been receiving major attention due to trends such as globalization of the food supply, rapid urbanization, complexity of food preparation, increasing numbers of at risk people, changes in food consumption, climate change and emergence of new or antimicrobial-resistant pathogens. Furthermore, there is a high incidence of foodborne diseases in both developed and developing countries, which has negative impact on public health and economic productivity. According to 2015 World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, foodborne illnesses are making 600 million people ill and kill 420,000 people — including 125,000 children under five years old — per year worldwide (Figure 2).

There are strong linkages between food safety, food security, nutrition, health, trade, poverty and development (Figure 1). Enhancing food safety is an important measure to achieve food security. Therefore, international organizations such as WHO and USAID, through the US Government Global Food Security Strategy, are prioritizing the integration of food safety within nutrition, food security and development programs. In fact, USAID is launching a Food Safety Working Group and will host its first food safety workshop on March 29.  

Food safety is a multidisciplinary issue and must be addressed while taking into account the roles of multiple stakeholders including the food industry, governments and consumers. It is important for each country to discuss the risks, benefits and costs of investing in food safety. Risks also vary from country to country. Developing countries need to establish food safety systems to control potential biological, chemical and physical hazards associated with high risk food during production, process, distribution, retail and consumption (food service and/or household) to prevent foodborne illness and injury. 

The goal of this blog is to engage constituents in developing countries on emerging food safety issues for the good of their citizens and the global community. Developing countries can use lessons learned (positive and negative) from each other and from countries with well-developed food safety systems to improve their food safety systems. This blog series seeks to initiate an open and continuous dialogue about important food safety issues around the world to improve global food safety and subsequently strengthen global food security and development.

Through this series, readers will learn about and discuss:  

  • The importance of effective communication strategies and commitment between all stakeholders to increase the demand for safer food
  • The linkages between food safety, nutrition, climate change, public health, poverty, food security and development
  • Emerging food safety issues
  • Types of high-risk hazards in different regions through the food chain
  • Gaps in food safety knowledge among countries
  • Capacity building and other interventions to improve food safety
  • The importance of strengthening local, regional and national food safety systems to address the needs of both domestic and international consumers

Please share your perspective on the following questions in the comment section below.

  • How important is food safety to developing countries? 
  • How do you see the connection between food safety, food security and development?
  • What are the current knowledge gaps on food safety in developing countries?

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