World Food Safety Day 2020 - "it's everyone's business"
The theme of world food safety day this year is “Food safety, everyone's business", the action oriented campaign will promote global food safety awareness and call upon countries and decision makers, the private sector and the general public to take action.
Everybody has a role to play from farm to table to ensure the food we consume is safe and will not cause damage to our health.
Food safety is an essential public health issue for all. The potential threat to public health from foodborne disease continues to increase with expanding urbanisation and the global distribution of food. The consequences for a failed food safety policy are costly, with impacts not only on public health but also on the food producer and the economy. Assessing the safety of our food has resulted in a paradigm shift to risk-based methods of analysis. Assessment and management of these risks must be scientifically evaluated, requiring input from a range of experts. Science-based food controls are essential for the protection of food products.
Everyone in South Africa has the right to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. During the COVID-19 lockdown, a lot of people have fallen ill after eating unsafe or contaminated food. When food is not safe, children cannot learn, adults cannot work and the economy suffers. Safe food is critical to promoting health and ending hunger, which are two of the 17 goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Without food safety there cannot be food security.
The world's food supply chain has become more complex, and any food safety incident like the Listeriosis outbreak in South Africa a few years ago has a negative impact on trade, the economy and public health. In South Africa food safety is taken for granted, but it is often not talked about until you get food poisoning. Food that is not safe is food that contains harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or hazardous chemicals.
We have to make use of this opportunity of World Food Safety Day to highlight the importance of food safety and we need to ensure that the food that we eat is indeed safe. Anyone that prepares food, sells food or produces food has a role to play. During the current COVID 19 pandemic we should not lose focus on the safe food that we eat. Global food production and the supply chain is heavily impacted by the pandemic, and together with climate change all of us need to consider food safety in the future.
Everyone in the food system has a role to play. Governments are critical in guaranteeing that we all can eat safe and nutritious food. Farming practices must ensure a sufficient supply of safe food while at the same time mitigating climate change and minimising future environmental impacts. The food industry must ensure compliance with programmes like HACCP, a system that identifies, evaluates and controls hazards which are significant for food safety from primary production to final consumption. Given the complexity of food safety, consumers need access to clear and reliable information about the nutritional and disease risks associated with their food choices. Food safety is a shared responsibility and we must work together on global, regional and local issues. Collaboration is needed at many levels.
Healthy engagement between academics and policymakers is essential to the provision of informed, evidence-based and world-class policymaking. The ability to prove that rigorous academic research has influenced the decisions of government policy is destined to score highly in an assessment of societal and economic impact. Academic research can benefit society, using incisive and engaging language in concise, well-designed briefings that can be shared with non-specialists, it is a key skill, but lobbying for policy change goes beyond that. It is about patience, persistence, and developing long-term relationships, based on trust and respect, with those that have influence in the relevant policy area. This change must come from researchers themselves, particularly in the way they communicate their research findings to a policy audience. Civil servants may sometimes lack expert knowledge in their field, therefore academics need to support and involve government advisers right from the outset.
The Centre for Food Safety (CFS), hosted in the Faculty of AgriSciences, more specifically in the Department of Food Science, is one-of-a-kind applied food science research consortium comprised of Stellenbosch University (SUN) and the food industry. In collaboration, they provide stakeholders with the opportunity to develop and exchange knowledge, experience, and expertise in the areas of food safety, food defence and food processing.
The South African food industries benefit immensely from CFS's collaborative research program. This is achieved by a multidisciplinary approach, workshops, networking, industry driven consortiums, seminars and consumer education. The Centre of Food Safety provides high quality internationally relevant research and training in the all aspects of food safety. It supports and encourages research partnerships and alliances with other entities, both nationally and internationally. The Centre invests in educating and informing the public about food safety as an important means of reducing food-borne illness. Traditionally, food safety educators have used a global approach to teach food safety by teaching a broad range of safe food handling behaviours in the expectation that this will lead to the avoidance of foodborne illnesses. Food safety education is most effective when messages are targeted toward changing behaviours most likely to result in foodborne illness.
If we are not doing this, then the microbe will have the last word.
Find out more on https://www.who.int/news-room/campaigns/world-food-safety-day/2020
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