Food safety

Areas of work

Foodborne diseases

WHO assists Member States in building capacity to prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks. WHO’s activities include generating baseline and trend data on foodborne diseases and supporting implementation of adequate infrastructures (e.g. laboratories).

Food hygiene

WHO assists Member States in promoting safe food handling through systematic disease prevention and health educations programmes directed to food handlers,,including the consumers.

Food technologies

WHO together with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) provides Member States with sound scientific advice on the assessments of foods derived from new technologies such as genetic modification and nanotechnology.

Microbiological risks

WHO develops scientific risk assessments, guidelines for risk management, including risk communication messages for all stakeholders, including the end users to assist Member States to improve their capacity to prevent and control foodborne diseases.

Chemical risks

WHO develops scientific risk assessments to define safe exposure levels which form the basis for the development of national and international food safety standards to protect the health of the consumers and ensure fair trade practices.

International food standards (Codex Alimentarius)

WHO works on the provision of independent international scientific advice on microbiological and chemical hazards. Scientific advice is the basis for the development of international Food Standards by Codex.

International Network of Food Safety Authorities (INFOSAN)

Through INFOSAN, WHO assists Member States in managing food safety risks, ensuring rapid sharing of information during food safety emergencies to stop the spread of contaminated food from one country to another.

Antimicrobial resistance

WHO develops and promotes guidelines to minimize the public health impact of antimicrobial resistance associated with the use of antimicrobials in food of animal origin. WHO also provides technical support in the monitoring of antimicrobial use.

Zoonoses and the environment

WHO works with partners across sectors to evaluate and reduce the risks of transmission of zoonoses to humans through the consumption of animal products. WHO provides guidance to Member States and the public on how to reduce these risks in the food chain.

Nutrition and food security

WHO works to promote the availability of safe, healthy and wholesome food for everyone to improve food safety and nutrition security. WHO strongly promotes the integration of food safety into nutrition and food security programmes.