Category Archives: Nutrition

World Food Safety Day (7 June 2023): Food Standards Save Lives

Background Information:

The United Nations General Assembly established World Food Safety Day in 2018 to raise awareness on the importance of food safety. WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) jointly facilitate the observance of World Food Safety Day, in collaboration with Member States and other stakeholders.

Consumers should practice safe food handling at home and follow WHO’s Five Keys to Safer Food:

  1. keep clean,
  2. separate raw and cooked,
  3. cook thoroughly,
  4. keep food at safe temperatures and
  5. use safe water and raw materials.

Key Messages:

More than 600 million people fall ill and 420 000 die every year from eating contaminated food. Nobody should die from eating food. These are preventable deaths. 

One in ten people worldwide falls ill from contaminated food each year. It affects all countries.

Over 200 diseases are caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances such as heavy metals.

Children under 5 make up 9 percent of thepopulation, but carry 40 percent of the foodborne disease burden.

Food safety standards protect the lives of all, and the livelihoods of many. They establish the criteria which food should meet to protect consumers and establish confidence in the product.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission has been setting international food standards for 60 years. The Codex Alimentarius has 236 standards, 84 guidelines, 56 codes of practice, 126 maximum levels for contaminants in food, and over 10 000 quantitative standards covering maximum levels for food additives and maximum residue limits for pesticides and veterinary drugs in food. (As of February 2023).

Antimicrobial resistant microbes can be transmitted through the food chain, via direct contact between animals and humans or through the environment. Each year, an estimated 5 million people die around the globe because of infections with antimicrobial resistant microbes.

Microbial, chemical or physical contamination of food can be reduced or minimized through the implementation of food safety standards.

This year’s theme, “Food standards save lives”, highlights the role of established food safety practices and standards, which ensure food safety and quality.

There is no food security without food safety

Food safety is an essential part of food security. Only when food is safe can it meet nutritional needs and help adults to live an active and healthy life and children to grow and develop.

Food safety has a direct impact on health. Safe food allows for the uptake of nutrients, promotes long-term human development and achievement of several of the SDGs. Food safety is a shared responsibility, involving the whole supply chain, from producers to consumers. In this context, most foodborne disease is preventable with proper food handling and education at all levels.

Science underpins food standards. Food standards help to ensure food is safe. They are established following expert advice from food scientists, microbiologists, veterinarians, medical doctors and toxicologists, to name a few. They advise policymakers what food production, processing, handling and preparation practices are needed to make food safe.

Food standards protect consumers. When food safety standards are applied consumers will be protected by the efforts that have been undertaken in making sure that the food they consume is safer. Food safety standards provide the common basis for understanding and, at the same time, the common basis for joint action to ensure that all of us can benefit from safe food.

Food safety impacts positively on economies and livelihoods. By ensuring their commodities meet food standards, producers and food traders gain the confidence of their market and secure their income. Unsafe food in trade can lead to export bans and destroy businesses, but governments can help protect the livelihoods of food workers by establishing a robust food control system and rigorous export controls.

Useful Links:

Link to WHO fact sheet on food safety:

Link to World Food Safety Day site: