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World Food Safety Day 2023: Food Standards Save Lives – A Call to Action to Reduce Preventable Deaths

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Today, on 7th June 2023, we commemorate World Food Safety Day. The United Nations General Assembly established this day in 2018 to highlight the critical importance of food safety and raise awareness about the preventable health risks associated with consuming unsafe food. 

This global observance is jointly facilitated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with Member States and various stakeholders.

This Year’s Theme: Food Standards Save Lives

This year’s theme, “Food Standards Save Lives,” underscores the crucial role of established food safety practices and standards in ensuring the safety and quality of our food. When you sit down to eat, have you ever considered how many people and processes have worked behind the scenes to ensure the safety of your food?

The Silent Epidemic: The Consequences of Unsafe Food

Foodborne diseases affect an alarming one in ten people worldwide each year. More than 600 million people fall ill, and 420,000 lose their lives every year as a result of consuming contaminated food. Even more distressing is the fact that each day, on average, 340 children under five years of age succumb to preventable foodborne diseases. This translates to an astounding 1,600,000 individuals dying daily from unsafe food.

Understanding Foodborne Diseases

Foodborne diseases, also known as food poisoning, are illnesses caused by consuming contaminated food or drinks. The contamination can occur at any stage in the food production process, from growing and harvesting to processing, storing, shipping, preparing, and serving.

The main culprits of foodborne illnesses are bacteria, viruses, and parasites, although toxins and chemicals can also contaminate food. These pathogens can infiltrate our food in various ways, such as unhygienic handling, improper storage, and cross-contamination from raw to cooked food.

The Impact of Foodborne Diseases

The effects of foodborne diseases are far-reaching. On one end of the spectrum, they may result in mild discomfort such as stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhoea. However, in severe cases, these diseases can lead to serious conditions like kidney failure, chronic arthritis, brain and nerve damage, and even death.

Foodborne illnesses don’t discriminate, affecting people of all ages and backgrounds. However, certain groups are more susceptible to severe symptoms. They include young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and individuals with weakened immune systems.

Moreover, they cause a significant burden on economies around the world due to the associated medical costs and productivity loss.

The Power of Food Standards

The WHO and FAO lead global expert groups and provide scientific advice to develop international food safety standards. Consequently, this will safeguard consumer health worldwide. These standards form the backbone of food safety and quality, mitigating the risks of foodborne illnesses and saving countless lives.

Food standards are our silent protectors. They regulate everything from food production and processing to packaging and distribution, ensuring that the food on our plates is safe to eat.

Your Role in Ensuring Food Safety

World Food Safety Day offers a unique opportunity for everyone to take an active role in preventing foodborne illnesses. It’s a call to action for everyone involved in the food chain to uphold and promote food safety standards. This extends from producers and retailers to consumers.

By staying informed and vigilant, we can all contribute to a safer food environment. Remember, every measure taken to ensure food safety helps save lives.


Finally, World Food Safety Day 2023 emphasises the life-saving role of food standards. Therefore, let’s pledge to uphold these standards and work towards a world where no one becomes ill or loses their life from consuming food. Together, we can make food safe for everyone, everywhere.

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