The World Health Organization (WHO) has published two reports from meetings of a group working on its revised food safety strategy.

WHO’s food safety strategy for 2022 to 2030 will be taken up by the 75th World Health Assembly in May. The FAO will also present an updated food safety strategy this year.

The first Technical Advisory Group (TAG) meeting was Feb. 8 to 10, 2021 and the second was in April on 19, 22 and 23, 2021.

An initial meeting collected experts’ advice on the discussion paper for updating the 2002 WHO Global Strategy for Food Safety. It included staff from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as observers.

Participants agreed on the role of food safety in the global development agenda, the drivers of change for the future of safe food, the aim and vision, and the proposed five strategic priorities.

It was also decided to give more visibility to WHO’s role in supporting member states to strengthen food safety and lower the burden of foodborne disease.

Internal or external factors that may influence or affect the safety of food include stakeholder interests and demands for safe food; global food safety threats; changes in the economics of the food supply; environmental challenges; social changes; rise of new technologies; and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Indicators and targets plan
At the follow-up meeting, members discussed each section of the draft strategy and settled on its overall structure and content. They amended the section on drivers of change for food safety, as well as the strategic priorities and objectives. It was also decided to include new sections on food safety and one health and food safety systems

The 23 TAG members supported the aim to establish global food safety indicators and targets, however, they said further discussions were needed to better identify, select and define the most appropriate ones.

Experts decided not to include a sixth priority focusing on food safety infrastructure capacity-building in developing countries.

The five priorities are strengthening national food control systems; identifying and responding to food safety challenges from the transformation and global changes in food systems; increasing use of food chain information, scientific evidence and risk assessment in making risk management decisions; strengthening stakeholder engagement and risk communication; and promoting food safety as an essential component in domestic and international trade.

The latest draft of the strategy was published in December and can be found here.

TAG members include Paul Cook from the Food Standards Agency; Annie Locas of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency; William R. Jones at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Sébastien Goux of DG Sante at the European Commission; and consultant Jørgen Schlundt.

An update to the global burden estimates for foodborne diseases, first published in 2015, will be completed in 2025 by the Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group (FERG).

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