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The First FAO/WHO/AU International Food Safety Conference

12-13 February 2019
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

With an estimated 600 million cases of foodborne illnesses annually, unsafe food is a threat to human health and economies globally. Foodborne diseases in low- and middle-income countries costs at least US$100 billion a year, with this cost exceeding US$500 million for 28 countries, according to a recent World Bank study. Ongoing changes in climate, global food production and supply systems affect consumers, industry and the planet itself: food safety systems need to keep pace with these changes. The burden of unsafe food disproportionally affects vulnerable and marginalized people and poses sustainability and development challenges. Despite the growing recognition of the fundamental role food safety plays in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the main objectives of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition, efforts to strengthen food safety systems remain fragmented and the gains, particularly in many developing countries, have been well below expectations.

In this pivotal moment, this conference, co-organised by FAO, WHO, WTO and AU, will bring together Ministers and representatives of national governments, senior policy makers as well as representatives of non-state actor groups from all regions of the world to engage in an urgent reflection on food safety challenges to:

  • Identify key actions and strategies to address current and future challenges to food safety globally.
  • Strengthen commitment at the highest political level to scale up food safety in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

At the Addis Ababa Conference, priorities will be discussed so that food safety strategies and approaches can be aligned across sectors and borders, reinforcing efforts to reach the SDGs and supporting the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition. Strategic actions will be defined through Ministerial panels involving health, trade and agriculture officials and experts thematic sessions covering the topics of:

  • the burden of foodborne diseases and the benefits of investing in safe food;
  • safe and sustainable food systems in an era of accelerated climate change;
  • science, innovation and digital transformation at the service of food safety;
  • empowering consumers to make healthy choices and support sustainable food systems.

The conference will result in a high-level political statement advocating for increased and better coordinated collaboration and support to improve food safety globally.

More info available here. This event is being livestreamed.

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