The World Health Organization (WHO) has opened a public comment period on its draft food safety strategy.

The proposed WHO global strategy for food safety 2022-2030 had input from a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on food safety that held two meetings virtually in February and April this year.

The document serves as a blueprint for countries to strengthen their national food safety systems and promote regional and global cooperation.

The vision is availability of safe and healthy food for all and to reduce the burden of foodborne diseases.

“The global food safety strategy has been developed to guide and support member states in their efforts to prioritize, plan, implement, monitor and regularly evaluate actions towards the reduction of the incidence of foodborne diseases by continuously strengthening food safety systems and promoting global cooperation,” according to the strategy.

Topics covered
There are five strategic priorities: strengthening national food controls; identifying and responding to food safety challenges resulting from global changes and transformations in food systems; increasing the use of food chain information, scientific evidence, and risk assessment in making risk management decisions; strengthening stakeholder engagement and risk communication and promoting food safety as an essential component in domestic and international food trade as well as four principles: evidence driven; forward looking; people centered and cost effective.

Environmental challenges such as climate change, shifts in consumer demand, new business models like e-commerce and food deliveries and the rise of new technologies including whole genome sequencing are also mentioned in the document.

The consultation’s aim is to reach government officials, civil society and international organizations, research institutions, and interested citizens worldwide to ensure the strategy reflects the experience and needs of the international community. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is also working on a new food safety strategy.

In 2020, a resolution called ‘‘Strengthening efforts on food safety’’ was adopted by the 73rd World Health Assembly which requested an update to WHO’s strategy.

There was a recognition that the food safety systems of many nations need significant improvements in areas such as regulatory infrastructure, enforcement, surveillance, inspection and laboratory capacity and capability, emergency response and education and training. There is also a need to integrate food safety into national and regional policies on health, agriculture, trade, environment and development.

Comments must be submitted through the online platform and are open until June 18, 2021.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)