PANAFTOSA calls on countries to establish measures to guarantee food safety throughout the production chain

Mujer cultivando

World Food Safety Day emphasizes the importance of safe food in traditional markets and recognizes the role of production chain workers in facilitating a continuous supply of food during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rio de Janeiro, June 5 2020 (PANAFTOSA-PAHO)– The Pan American Center for Foot-and-Mouth Disease and Veterinary Public Health (PANAFTOSA) is calling on countries of the Americas to take necessary measures to ensure food safety throughout the production chain to ensure safe food for consumers. The call comes ahead of World Food Safety Day, commemorated every 7 June.

This year, the emphasis is placed on the importance of food safety in traditional markets, which are the main source of fresh and accessible food for many low-income groups, and in turn, an important source of livelihood for millions of urban and rural inhabitants throughout the region. However, traditional markets, particularly those that sell live animals, may represent a risk of transmission of diseases from animals to humans (zoonotic diseases). Therefore, it is important that the production and sale of live animals of regulated to prevent the spread of emerging diseases.

In addition to safety, we want to highlight that, from a public health point of view, food markets can be a potential focus of outbreaks of zoonotic diseases and disease transmission. For these reasons, it is important to alert country authorities in the region about the need for regulations and inspections to prevent risks in transportation centers, retention centers and markets.”

Dr. Ottorino Cosivi, Director of PANAFTOSA

“Foods which contain harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemicals, cause more than 200 diseases, ranging from diarrhea to cancer. Foodborne illness is a global public health problem and that is why we cooperate with the countries of the Americas to strengthen their food safety systems,” said Dr. Margarita Corrales, who manages the food safety program at PANAFTOSA.

The World Health Organization estimates that, globally, one in ten people becomes ill after consuming contaminated food, and that 420,000 die each year. Children under 5 years old are the most affected, with 125,000 deaths annually.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is working with the countries of the region to strengthen their food safety systems through its Regional Plan of Action for Technical Cooperation in Food Safety, which is coordinated by PANAFTOSA.

Ensuring food safety

To guarantee food safety, PANAFTOSA specifies the following actions that should be followed by all actors in the production chain, from the field to the table, for safe food production:

  • Ensuring safety: Governments must ensure safe and nutritious food for all, through policies that can promote agriculture and sustainable food systems, and multi-sectoral collaboration between public health, animal health, agriculture and other sectors.
  • Grow safe food: Agricultural producers must guarantee the supply of safe food to consumers. 
  • Keeping food safe: Business operators must ensure that food is safely transported, stored and processed, not only to keep food safe but to preserve the nutritional value of food. 
  • Consume food safely: Consumers need to have access to timely, clear and reliable information regarding the nutritional and disease risk associated with their food choices. 
  • Act together for safety: Governments, regional economic agencies, United Nations organizations, development agencies, trade organizations, consumer and producer groups, academic and research institutions, as well as private sector entities, should work jointly on food safety issues.


The Pan American Center for Foot-and Mouth Disease and Veterinary Public Health (PANAFTOSA) forms part of the Department of Communicable Diseases and Environmental Determinants of Health (CDE) of the Pan American Health Organization / World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO).

PANAFTOSA is responsible for coordinating the Veterinary Public Health Program Public and works for the prevention, surveillance and control of zoonoses, promoting initiatives to improve food safety systems and the eradication of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD), with the objective of promoting public health and development socioeconomic region.


Daniel Salman

Public Affairs Team