WHO is looking for experts to work on the burden of disease caused by foodborne exposure to cadmium, methylmercury, arsenic, and lead.

It is part of the World Health Organization (WHO) Department of Nutrition and Food Safety’s process to collect and assess evidence to estimate the global burden of foodborne diseases.

WHO is seeking support from independent consultants or groups of experts with relevant expertise and experience to undertake systematic reviews to gather the evidence for different topics.

Other calls have covered 14 pathogens commonly transmitted by food, aflatoxin B1 and M1 as well as Taenia solium infection and cysticercosis. 

Expressions of interest should cover collecting data suitable for estimating the disease burden of chronic kidney disease caused by dietary exposure to cadmium; of intellectual disability caused by dietary exposure to methylmercury; of lung, bladder and skin cancer due to exposure to inorganic arsenic and intellectual disability and cardiovascular diseases caused by exposure to lead.

Systematic reviews will identify the burden associated with a specific hazard and how much disease associated with the hazard was due to contaminated food.

Deadline for applications is July 21. Work is expected to start in September 2023 and end by February 2024.

The Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group (FERG) will publish revised estimates by 2025. The fifth meeting of the group was held virtually during two days in June.

FERG revealed estimates in 2015 using 2010 data. Updated figures will be released in a couple of years but the reference year has not yet been decided, with the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic being taken into account.

WHO and Codex celebration
Also, the agenda for an event to mark WHO and Codex anniversaries has been announced.

2023 is the 60th anniversary of the Codex Alimentarius Commission and the 75th anniversary of WHO.

The event is on July 13 at the Centre International de Conférences de Genève in Geneva, Switzerland. However, virtual participation is possible. Recorded messages from Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, and Dr. Qu Dongyu, FAO Director-General, will be played.

Dr. Jose Emilio Esteban

Speakers include Jose Emilio Esteban, USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety, Steve Wearne, chairperson of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, Francesco Branca, from WHO, followed by a panel discussion on the future of risk assessment and scientific advice.

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