Food & Beverage Asia Feb/Mar 2020

MARKET INSIGHTS 12 FOOD & BEVERAGE ASIA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2020 T he World Health Organization (WHO), jointly together with the Food and Agriculture O r g a n i z a t i o n o f t h e United Nations (FAO), and in partnership with the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the African Union (AU), made a significant contribution to two high-level international food safety conferences held in Addis Ababa and Geneva last year, under the common theme of “Future of Food Safety – Transforming knowledge into action for people, economies and the environment”. Furthermore, food safety is being included in the agenda of the WHO Executive Board and the World Health Assembly this year. The last time the governing bodies of WHO discussed food safety was 10 years ago. Why is food safety attracting global attention now? Some people might consider food safety as an outdated subject belonging to the past. Indeed, one can argue that during the last 15 years of the last century, the crisis of Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis (BSE) in ruminants, linked to the variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease in humans, as well as the radionuclide scares after the Chernobyl accident and a string of devasting outbreaks of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli infections due to contaminated foods of animal or plant origins, resulted in a severe degradation of consumer’s confidence in food safety all over the world. At the same time, these crises made people realise how important food safety was, and triggered the strengthening of food safety Food Safety: Why now and still now? By Dr Kazuaki Miyagishima, Former Director for Food Safety and Zoonoses, World Health Organization systems in many regions and countries. In the aftermath of the BSE crisis, several food safety agencies were established with an increased level of autonomy and authority, and several other countries strengthened their food safety risk analysis by separating risk assessment from risk management, thereby giving more importance to the excellence and independence of scientific evaluations of foodborne risks. Equally over the same period, the regulatory aspect of food safety saw the evolution from the systems that were heavily relying on the checks of (Photo credit: Chris Black, WHO)