Food safety

General information about FOS capacity building activities

Inadequate capacities in developing countries continue to be a major obstacle in achieving food safety objectives. Underdevelopment poses difficulties for producing safe food, for domestic consumption and export. Countries that gain these capacities can improve health at both national and international levels. Improved capacity for surveying and monitoring is essential in enabling individual countries to assess the risks associated with food hazards and to set priorities and manage those risks more effectively. Resolution WHA53.15 requested the Director-General of WHO to support capacity building in Member States, and especially in less developed countries, and to facilitate their full participation in the work of Codex and its various committees, including risk analysis

While the identification of hazards and risks in food is vital in strategic planning, the capacity to assess and manage those risks is fundamentally lacking in many developing countries. FOS capacity building activities focus on identifying gaps in the infrastructure and capacity of Member States to address food safety, and tailored programmes are designed to close those gaps. WHO advocates food safety as a public health issue at the national level and as a priority for funding from donors. As such, WHO provides technical assistance and education tools for food safety initiatives globally. WHO also provides cross-sectoral training in relation to lab-based surveillance and epidemiology, promoting the necessary collaboration between sectors dealing with primary production, food puction and human health.

WHO attempts to improve food safety in Member States predominantly through its regional and country offices. While much progress has been made by the provision of technical cooperation for the development of national food safety programmes and capacity building, much remains to be done. Success in capacity building depends on strong involvement of the regional offices in identifying food safety capacity needs and priorities. Training remains an important component of capacity building.


  • Encourage donor support for food safety as a priority in public health in developing countries.
  • Development of regional food safety strategies based on both the common elements outlined in the WHO food safety strategy and specific regional needs.
  • Establishment of a network of WHO collaborating centres engaged in capacity building.
  • Provision of technical assistance and educational tools for food safety initiatives.
  • Enhancing participation in Codex activities
  • Field studies to estimate the burden of foodborne disease
  • Risk assessment and monitoring of chemical and microbiological hazards