The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO’s) world summit on food security in Rome discussed food safety issues in the midst of its focus on increasing food production to meet growing populations last week.

Jacques Diouf, director-general of the FAO, spoke about the state of the international food system before an audience of food and agriculture experts.

As Diouf pointed out in his remarks, global food production needs to expand by 70 percent and double in developing countries to meet the demand of an expected world population of 9.1 billion in 2050.

“We need also to ensure food security beyond production. We have to guarantee food quality and safety for the consumers,” said Diouf. “We also need protection against pests and diseases of plants and animals which often directly affect human health.”

According to Diouf, the joint FAO, World Health Organization (WHO) Codex Alimentarius Commission and the FAO International Plant Protection Convention are working to ensure a safe and nutritious global food supply.

“To ensure the safety of the food we consume, over 320 standards, guidelines and codes of practices were developed covering major food products,” said Diouf, pointing to global standards on expiration dates as an example of a wide-reaching Codex achievement. 

“In addition, over 3,700 maximum residue limits for various pesticides and veterinary drugs, some 2,000 Codex food additive provisions and 150 Codex recommended maximum levels of contaminants and natural toxins have been established,” said Diouf.

Codex, founded in 1963, by the FAO and the WHO is charged with establishing global food standards. The commission ratified 30 new international standards and directives this year. 

“All will have positive effects on the lives of people the world over,” said president of the commission, and former chief scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Food Safety, Karen Hulebak.