WHO’s theme this year is Food safety: prepare for the unexpected

NOTE: In June I took a tumble off a 12 foot wall, breaking my back (surgery was very successful) and then got COVID for the first time – so, if I still think it should be June, I hope you understand.

World Food Safety Day on 7 June 2024 will draw attention to food safety incidents. This year’s theme underlines the importance of being prepared for food safety incidents, no matter how mild or severe they can be.

Food safety incidents are situations where there is a potential or confirmed health risk associated with food consumption. A food incident can happen, for example, due to accidents, inadequate controls, food fraud or natural events. While being ready to manage food safety incidents requires dedicated efforts from policymakers, food safety authorities, farmers and food business operators, consumers also can play an active role.

Access to enough safe and nutritious food is key to sustaining life and promoting good health. Unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances can cause more than 200 different diseases, ranging from diarrhoea to cancers. Around the world, an estimated 600 million – almost 1 in 10 people – fall ill after eating contaminated food each year, resulting in 420 000 deaths and the loss of 33 million healthy life years (DALYs). 

Food safety, nutrition and food security are closely linked. Unsafe food creates a vicious cycle of disease and malnutrition, particularly affecting infants, young children, elderly and the sick. In addition to contributing to food and nutrition security, a safe food supply also supports national economies, trade and tourism, stimulating sustainable development. The globalization of food trade, a growing world population, climate change and rapidly changing food systems have an impact on the safety of food. WHO aims to enhance the capacity to prevent, detect and respond to public health threats associated with unsafe food at the global and country levels.