The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for experts to advise the body’s work on food safety.

WHO will update the global strategy for food safety: safer food for better health and aims to deliver a new plan by 2022. With this move, international efforts in food safety will be strengthened and harmonized to lower the burden of foodborne illness, according to the organization.

The health agency wants to identify internationally renowned experts who are willing to serve on a technical advisory group (TAG) for two years to advise WHO’s work in food safety. WHO’s role is to reduce the burden of foodborne illnesses by helping countries minimize exposure to high levels of chemicals or microorganisms in food.

Draft resolutions and health assembly
At the most recent meeting of the WHO Executive Board in February in Geneva, Switzerland, experts discussed the topic under “Accelerating efforts on food safety” and recommended adoption of a resolution on “Strengthening efforts on food safety.”

The 73rd World Health Assembly, held virtually in May, adopted this resolution, which asks WHO to update the strategy for food safety to address current and emerging challenges, incorporating new technologies and including innovative strategies for strengthening food safety systems.

The WHO will work with the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, member states and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) to submit a report for consideration by the 75th World Health Assembly.

From 2010 data, it was estimated that unsafe food cause 600 million illnesses and 420,000 deaths per year based on the first global report of the foodborne disease burden published by WHO in 2015 that included 31 hazards.

The “Strengthening efforts on food safety” draft resolution was proposed by Australia, Canada, Chile, Ethiopia, Gabon, Israel, Japan, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia and the European Union.

It includes plans to prepare, by 2025, a new report on the global burden of foodborne diseases with up-to-date estimates of incidence, mortality and disease burden.

Experts role and food safety challenges
Experts on the TAG are expected to identify and describe current and future challenges along the agri-food supply chain; advise WHO on directions to be prioritized to improve national food safety systems; identify interventions and activities to improve food safety for WHO’s analysis and advise WHO on the update of the global strategy for food safety and other matters relating to it.

“Compared with one decade ago, food safety is facing many emerging risks from a globalized and much more complex agri-food supply chain, the unsustainable food systems, the influence of disease transmission pattern by environmental changes and human activities,” according to the brief calling for experts.

“Besides challenges, all evolving new technologies, such as the blockchain for better transparency and traceability, whole-genome sequencing for the detection of foodborne and zoonotic pathogens, biotechnology and nanotechnology used in food production, bring new insights and uncertainties into the risk management of food safety.”

For the criteria, qualifications and expertise required and to apply follow this link. Applications must be submitted by Sept. 11, 2020.

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