The COVID-19 pandemic dominated World Food Safety Day events, according to a new report.

The second UN World Food Safety Day in June saw initiatives reshaped for a “new normal” that looks set to affect food safety and food systems for the foreseeable future.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced the report at the opening of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. It details 100 activities, events and campaigns held in more than 60 countries and mentions coverage by Food Safety News.

Experts in Asia-Pacific held a webinar, the Pan American Center for Foot-and-Mouth Disease and Veterinary Public Health and Caribbean Public Health Agency shared their perspectives while a Facebook live session was set up by FAO and WHO.

WHO’s regional director for Africa and the Regional Office for Europe offered different geographical opinions and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) hosted a Twitter Q&A.

Coronavirus focus
Food safety experts from international and national organizations, educators and businesses discussed topics such as “COVID-19 and food safety and quality in the world,” organized by Chile’s Food Safety and Quality Agency (ACHIPIA). Experts said several food safety measures also align with COVID-19 precautions such as handwashing and hygiene.

About half of several dozen webinars concentrated on how COVID-19 has changed the food production and safety landscape. Other COVID-related sessions were held by authorities in Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe.

COVID-19 forced postponement of a charity run in Germany that was part of a campaign promoting food safety, good nutrition and physical fitness. It is now planned for 2021.

The pandemic also influenced the ways in which food is produced, transported and marketed. Director Generals of FAO and WHO mentioned the role of food workers in ensuring people continue to have access to safe food.

The #WorldFoodSafetyDay hashtag appeared on Twitter an average of 624 times per day in the first two weeks of June. In this period, 78 percent of the tweets that included #WorldFoodSafetyDay were supportive or made a positive reference to the day.

Global input and plans for 2021
WHO and FAO focused the campaign on five calls to action to highlight how everyone can help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks. These were, ensure it’s safe; grow it safe; keep it safe; eat it safe; and team up for safety. A theme of “safe foods in markets” was introduced to show what governments, producers, vendors and consumers can do to ensure healthy food markets.

Qatar presented the initial draft of an Arab food safety policy during a World Food Safety Day webinar in that country. Suriname’s government linked activities with the ongoing EU-funded FAO initiative, Suriname Agriculture Market Access Project.

Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Healthcare focused on food hygiene measures by highlighting the HACCP approach to safe food, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Hygiene Practices (GHP).

The emphasis of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic was on training food inspectors and entrepreneurs in a workshop while Luxembourg’s government ran a national food safety quiz.

Looking ahead to the third World Food Safety Day in 2021, the build-up will have started for the UN Food Systems Summit, which will offer the opportunity to consider the role food safety can play in food systems at a global, regional, national and local level and how it intersects with health, food security, climate change, economic inclusion, antimicrobial resistance and trade.

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