Food Safety: A core tenet of One Health


In 2018, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly proclaimed that every June 7th would be World Food Safety Day. Food safety and food security play an important role in nutrition. According to the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security, the definition of food security means that all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life. Food safety refers to the processes and results of these processes that take place during all stages of food handling before consumption to reduce the presence of harmful elements in food.

Part of the push to make this proclamation was the burden of foodborne illnesses on human health and economies. There are an estimated 600 million cases of foodborne illnesses and around 400 thousand deaths annually. Foodborne illnesses are normally infectious or toxic in nature and can be caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemical substances. World Food Safety Day serves as an annual reminder of this important issue and the actions that we can take to improve it.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with member states and other relevant organizations, jointly facilitate the observance of this day.

This year, World Food Safety Day will be celebrated with various events, such as a panel discussion at 8 AM on June 7th hosted by the WHO, FAO, and the Codex Secretariat You can learn about more events to celebrate this Day by visiting this website.  

From a One Health perspective nutrition cannot be only framed within a biomedical definition of nutrients consumed to attain physical health and growth, but it is also recognized as a symbol of identity, culture, social status, social roles, and a driver of social connection and structure. Eating is a highly social activity that can bring people together or apart, in the literal and metaphorical sense. Food choices can be driven by social discourse, traditions, popular trends, and habits. In fact, some anthropologists have argued that food “may be second only to language as a social communication system”. Therefore, guaranteeing adequate food safety has a primordial role in our everyday lives. 

By: Olga Muñoz  | Graduate Assistant

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