What is in your meal? Where did the ingredients come from? Were they properly – and safely – handled at every stage, from farm to plate? WHO is advocating for action in these areas on this World Health Day, 7 April 2015, as it calls on producers, policy-makers and the public to promote food safety.
Food safety and Universal Health Coverage
Universal Health Coverage includes appropriate preventive and promotive population focused health services to address food safety, safe drinking water, hygiene, sanitation and such social and environmental determinants of health whose linkage to each other and curative person focused health services is undisputed. The World Health Day 2015 theme on ‘food safety’ would invigorate the platform of stakeholders from multiple sectors to work together to “make food safe, from farm to plate”. The intersectoral action to ensure food safety is an intrinsic part of the critical interventions needed to move forward on the UHC agenda.
About the Theme
The topic for World Health Day 2015 is food safety.
As our food supply becomes increasingly globalized, the need to strengthen food safety systems in and between all countries is becoming more and more evident. That is why the WHO is promoting efforts to improve food safety, from farm to plate (and everywhere in between) on World Health Day, 7 April 2015.
WHO helps countries prevent, detect and respond to foodborne disease outbreaks – in line with the Codex Alimentarius, a collection of international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice covering all the main foods and processes.
Together with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), WHO alerts countries to food safety emergencies through an international information network.
Food safety is an area of public health action to protect consumers from the risks of food poisoning and foodborne diseases, acute or chronic. Unsafe food can lead to a range of health problems: diarrhoeal disease, viral disease, reproductive and developmental problems, cancers etc. Food safety is thus an issue of growing public health concern and a prerequisite for food security.
The objective of the World Health Day, this year, is to catalyze collective government and public action to put measures in place that will improve safety of food by aligning policies in agriculture, trade, health, education and social protection to provide a safe and healthy diet for all.
The campaign aims to:
Spur governments to improve food safety through public awareness campaigns and highlight their ongoing actions in this area, and
Encourage consumers to ensure the food on their plate is safe (ask questions, check labels, follow hygiene tips)
Five keys to safer food
Food safety is a shared responsibility. It is important to work all along the food production chain – from farmers and manufacturers to vendors and consumers. For example, WHO’s Five keys to safer food offer practical guidance to vendors and consumers for handling and preparing food:
To mark the theme for World Health Day, 2015, the WHO Country Office for India in collaboration with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare organized a national consultation on 1 April 2015 at New Delhi. The aim was to bring together policy makers and relevant stakeholders to integrate ‘food safety’ into the broader food policy and inform consumers about having safe food.
WHO India honours public health champions
At a national consultation held on 1 April 2015 at New Delhi jointly with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India to commemorate the World Health Day 2015 (7 April), the WHO Country Office for India announced awards for Public Health Champions.
To create awareness amongst street food vendors about food safety, the theme of World Health Day 2015, a day-long training was conducted by the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) in collaboration with the WHO Country Office for India. Over 130 street food vendors from the NCR Delhi region attended the training. It also saw participation from industry leaders who have made it big, from street carts to food chains across India.
Unsafe food and water are linked to the deaths of an estimated two million people annually – including many children. The World Health Organization has been working closely with the Member States since the early 1990s to improve national food safety programmes, through technical assistance and collaborative activities.
The Five Keys to Safer Food explain the basic principles that each individual should know all over the world to prevent foodborne diseases.
Food Safety: What you should know
Ensuring food safety is becoming increasingly important in the context of changing food habits, and the popularization of mass catering establishments. The focus is on demonstrating the importance of food safety along the whole length of the food chain in a globalized world, from production and transport, to preparation and consumption.
Tips for food safety
Simple tips for the manufacturers, retailers and the public on the importance of food safety – and the part each can play in ensuring that the food on people’s plates is safe to eat.
Global situation – Health impact of unsafe food
Vicious cycle of disease and malnutrition is particularly affecting the most vulnerable. Policy makers at all levels need science-based, reliable estimates on burden of foodborne diseases to make informed decisions and mobilize resources.
A joint mission of the United Nations Interagency Task Force (UNIATF) on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) visited India from 8-12 December 2014 to enhance the support of UN agencies to the Government of India to scale up the National Multisectoral Response to NCDs.
From Farm to Plate, Make Food Safe emphasizes upon improving food safety through public awareness campaigns and encourage consumers to ensure that the food on their plate is safe.
Consumer awareness for safe food
Dr. Nata Menabde, WHO representative to India says consumer awareness is crucial to tackling the challenges of unsafe food, malnutrition and food security.
Need for stringent food safety measures
Speakers at the National Consultation on food safety, held on 1 April 2015, agreed there is a need for inter-sectoral convergence, consumer awareness and implementation of stringent food standards to enable a safe and healthy plate for the people of India.
Food safety in a globalized world
As our food supply becomes increasingly globalized new threats are constantly emerging. Acknowledging the need to further improve the food safety systems, policy makers, scientists and civil society members extensively deliberated on the issues of production, regulations, nutrition, unhealthy food, consumer awareness, and strengthening surveillance of foodborne illnesses in India.
Dr. K.K.Sharma, Network Coordinator, All India Network Project on Pesticide Residues, Indian Agricultural Research Institute says good agricultural practices are crucial to producing safe food. Pesticides, though important, should be used judiciously so that they do not have any ill-effect on health due to excessive residue.
Safe street food
Dr. Indira Chakravarty, Chief Advisor, Water and Sanitation Support Organization of West Bengal stresses on making street food safe for consumption through constant training and regulations.
Serving safe food – Issues and challenges
Arbind Singh, National Coordinator, National Association of Street Vendors of India says training lakhs of street vendors across the county in safe food techniques is a huge task. However, behavioral changes should be facilitated by infrastructural changes for effective management.
Promising safe food
The street vendors from across the country share their experiences of a day-long training on food safety and pledged to use the learnings to deliver quality food. This training was conducted by the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) in collaboration with the WHO Country Office for India.
This animated film was developed to explain the WHO Five Keys to Safer Food to general public from 9 to 99 years old, and encourage their practice at home. The Five Keys to Safer Food is a WHO global health message that everybody should know all over the world to prevent foodborne diseases and improve health. WHO chose food safety to be the theme of World Health Day 2015.
Food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances is responsible for more than 200 diseases, ranging from diarrhea to cancers. Be informed to ensure that the food on your plate is safe to eat.