Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 7 June, 2021 (PANAFTOSA/VPH-PAHO/WHO) – The theme of this year’s World Food Safety Day is: “Safe food today for a healthy tomorrow”. Its main objective is to promote actions to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks. This is a special day to acknowledge the work of different actors in the food chain who are devoted to ensure a continued and safe production.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), through its food safety technical cooperation actions, coordinated by the Pan American Center for Foot-and-Mouth Disease and Veterinary Public Health (PANAFTOSA/VPH-PAHO/WHO), is working with the countries of the region to strengthen their food control systems through five pillars: standards and regulations, education and communication, surveillance, inspection, and laboratories.
We are now in the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic and, although the virus is not transmitted by food, the pandemic has highlighted many food-related issues such as hygiene, antimicrobial resistance, zoonotic diseases, climate change, and food fraud. Also, it has identified vulnerabilities in food production and control systems where the dynamics of supply chains at global, regional and local levels is of utmost importance for the preservation of livelihoods.
Food safety is an important component of food security and it plays an essential role in the reduction of foodborne diseases that affect particularly the most vulnerable populations. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that every year 77 million people are affected by and more than 9000 people die of a foodborne disease (FBD) in the region of the Americas. Of the total number of people ill, 31 million are children under 5 years old, and more than 2000 of them die. FBDs are preventable and all of us can collaborate in their prevention.
Food can be a vehicle of disease transmission if food safety is not kept throughout the production chain. The consumption of food contaminated with bacteria, parasites, chemical contaminants and biotoxins may lead to a broad range of illnesses, from diarrhea to cancer.
Foodborne diseases are a big public health issue and they account for US$ 7.4 million per year in productivity losses for the society, overloading the health systems and reducing economic development as a result of lack of confidence in safe tourism, food production and the commercialization system (World Bank, 2016).
Safety standards and practices should be applied throughout the food chain, from primary production to transportation, processing, distribution, sales and consumption.
The World Food Safety Day is an important way to:
- raise the awareness of people about food safety issues
- show how to prevent diseases through food safety
- discuss about collaborative approaches to improve food safety in all sectors
- promote solutions and ways to improve food safety.
On December 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution announcing the World Safety Day. As from 2018, every 7 of June will be a day to celebrate the benefits of safe food.
PAHO, through PANAFTOSA/VPH-PAHO/WHO, invites the countries to carry out activities to promote the day.