Celebrating Food Safety Month in Tokyo
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 600 million - almost 1 in 10 people in the world - fall ill after eating contaminated food and 420,000 die every year. Representing USAID’s Bureau for Food Security for the first time, my colleagues and I traveled to Tokyo in early March 2018 to attend The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Conference, sponsored by the Consumer Goods Forum. The trip enabled us to meet with industry experts and other stakeholders to discuss strategies to address food safety challenges and gain familiarity with the GFSI Global Markets Program. The Global Markets Program assists companies advance toward appropriate food safety certifications. Investments in food safety are critical. Greater emphasis by experts on building the capacity of local markets to participate is a must to ensure nutritious and safe foods.
The GFSI conference is one of the leading annual food safety events that brings together more than 1,200 top food safety professionals from more than 50 countries to advance food safety globally. The conference is a unique opportunity to meet and network with industry leaders, share knowledge in plenary and breakout sessions, learn from thought-provoking presentations and hear innovative ideas.
In a rapidly transforming global food system, food safety threats are evolving. To address this changing context, the U.S. Government’s Global Food Security Strategy (GFSS) aims to reduce food safety risks throughout agricultural value chains, from farm to fork. USAID is identifying ways to strategically align with industry, government, academia and NGOs around food safety. In Tokyo, the Government to Business meeting, led by GFSI Chairman Mike Robach of Cargill, was well attended by all GFSI board members and helped put this changing landscape into perspective. Leaders in food safety from Amazon, The Coca-Cola Company, Costco and others gathered to discuss how to make food safe. The discussion focused on how food safety is not only a food security issue but also a human health issue.
As leaders of change, we need to think creatively and strategically about ways to work together to make sure food is nutritious and safe for all. Food safety depends on the strength of public and private institutions working and investing together, building new markets and supply chains, and sustainably taking new initiatives to scale. Working together to support the same strategic goals, we will have an impact on food safety and increase the utilization, access and availability of nutritious and safe foods. I look forward to holding further discussions with my food safety colleagues in Washington in addition to the contacts I made on my trip to Tokyo.
Other U.S. Government representatives to the conference included: the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).