WHO launches new handbook to help countries enhance effectiveness of their food safety systems

SWITZERLAND – As the world celebrates the World Food Safety Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) developed a new handbook to help countries address food safety challenges in their respective jurisdictions.

According to a statement from the WHO, the new handbook will provide a guideline on how countries can measure their foodborne disease burden.

Additionally, the handbooks provide countries with information on how they can identify food safety system needs and data gaps so they can strengthen national infrastructure and better protect people’s health.

“Food should sustain and support human health, not harm it,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“WHO’s new handbook will help countries to collect and analyze data to inform sustained investments in food safety.”

The new handbook follows a 2020 resolution adopted by the World Health Assembly mandating WHO to monitor the global burden of foodborne and zoonotic diseases at national, regional and international levels.

The resolution also gave the WHO the mandate to report on the global burden of foodborne diseases with up-to-date estimates of global foodborne disease incidence, mortality and disease burden by 2025.

Food safety incidents still a major cause of death globally

Despite tremendous efforts made by food manufacturing companies in producing food in a safe manner, food safety incidents still occur even in the developed world.

According to the WHO, every year 600 million cases of foodborne illnesses are reported while in  2010, 420 000 people died due to such diseases as salmonella and E.coli infection.

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WHO estimates that the number of deaths from food borne illnesses keeps increasing year after year, but it is difficult to get a clear picture of the real impact foodborne diseases are having around the world.

The WHO hopes that the new handbook will bolster efforts towards enhancing the effectiveness of food safety management systems in protecting consumers from food borne illnesses.

To further augment its efforts, the WHO is reconvening its foodborne disease burden epidemiology reference group (WHO FERG) with 26 new international experts.

The group’s main functions will be to advise WHO on methodologies to estimate the global burden of foodborne diseases, to monitor global food safety indicators and measure progress being made in food safety.

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