Focus on food-borne disease at 1st international Food Safety Conference

With unsafe food a threat to human health and economies on a global scale, the first international Food Safety Conference is set to begin, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Experts are gathering in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the conference today (Tuesday, February 12), the United Nations has confirmed.

The aim of the conference is evident: To cut the risks of food-borne diseases on an international level.

Currently, almost one in 10 people fall ill to such illnesses on an annual basis, which accounts for 420,000 deaths every year, according to the WHO.

The conference is co-organised by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), WHO, World Trade Organisation (WTO) and African Union (AU).

According to the WHO, it will “bring together ministers and representatives of national governments, senior policy makers as well as representatives of non-state actor groups from all regions of the world to engage in an urgent reflection on food safety challenges”.

The event aims to:
  • Identify key actions and strategies to address current and future challenges to food safety globally; and
  • Strengthen commitment at the highest political level to scale up food safety in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

At the Addis Ababa conference, priorities will be discussed so that food safety strategies and approaches can be aligned across sectors and borders, reinforcing efforts to reach the SDGs and supporting the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition.

Strategic actions will be defined through ministerial panels involving health, trade and agriculture officials and expert thematic sessions.

These will cover the topics of:
  • The burden of food-borne diseases and the benefits of investing in safe food;
  • Safe and sustainable food systems in an era of accelerated climate change;
  • Science, innovation and digital transformation at the service of food safety; and
  • Empowering consumers to make healthy choices and support sustainable food systems.

The conference will result in a high-level political statement advocating for increased and better coordinated collaboration and support to improve food safety globally.