Food safety

Rapid sharing of information to protect food safety and public health around the globe

The International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) links together national authorities in Member States responsible for managing food safety emergencies. INFOSAN is a joint programme of FAO and WHO, with the Secretariat in WHO.

Recently, it was reported through INFOSAN that several batches of milk whey protein concentrate (WPC) (an ingredient used in the manufacture of food products such as powdered infant formula, juice, dairy beverages, yoghurt and sports beverages), were suspected to be contaminated with dangerous bacteria. The affected batches were distributed to many countries worldwide.

50th Anniversary of Codex Alimentarius

50 years of international collaboration to ensure safe, good food for everyone - everywhere

Blue candles on birthday cake
Joey Gannon

WHO and FAO have been working jointly since 1963 through the Codex Alimentarius Commission to protect consumer health and ensure fair practices in food trade. Codex establishes international food safety standards, guidelines and best practices. 185 Member States participate in the Codex process. In order to ensure that Codex standards are truly global, the Codex Trust Fund was established in 2003 to support the effective participation of developing and transition-economy countries.

Live food markets: Reducing the risk of influenza virus transmission from animals

More than half of the world's population lives in urban areas. Food markets are the main source of affordable food including fresh produces for many people and have an important economic and social role.

Avian influenza viruses are not transmissible through well prepared and well cooked foods but it can be transmitted from infected animals to humans during handling and slaughtering in wet markets. It is therefore important to limit, as much as possible, close contacts between animals and humans in wet markets.

Food safety

Market transaction in the Seychelles
WHO/F. Fontannaz

Unsafe food causes many acute and life-long diseases, ranging from diarrhoeal diseases to various forms of cancer. WHO estimates that foodborne and waterborne diarrhoeal diseases taken together kill about 2.2 million people annually, 1.9 million of them children.

Foodborne diseases and threats to food safety constitute a growing public health problem and WHO's mission is to assist Member States to strengthen their programmes for improving the safety of food all the way from production to final consumption.

In order to achieve this goal WHO has developed a global strategic plan for 2013-2022 according to its mandate and following the World Health Assembly resolution from 2010 (WHA63.3).

In Focus