Food safety

Food Safety News No 42

Fish in the marketplace
WHO/F. Fontannaz

Food Safety News
No 42 - 7 April 2011

Issued by the Department of Food Safety and Zoonoses
World Health Organization


  • World Health Day - "Combat Drug Resistance. No action today, no cure tomorrow"
  • Nuclear Emergency in Japan - WHO's response
  • First Global Meeting of INFOSAN
  • News about GLEWS (Global Early Warning System for major animal diseases, including zoonoses)
  • Codex Trust Fund - 2011 support levels for eligible countries
  • JEMRA - Call for Data
  • New publication available on the web

World Health Day

"Combat drug resistance. No action today, no cure tomorrow"

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the theme of the World Health Day 2011 (7 April). AMR and its global spread threatens the continued effectiveness of many drugs used today to treat serious diseases. Antibiotics are being used in food animals for treatment, but also for disease prevention and in many countries also for growth promotion. Use of antibiotics in food animals, which in many countries seems to outweigh antibiotic use for human therapy, has important public health consequences.

Use of antibiotics in food animals selects for resistant bacteria and resistance genes that can be passed on to humans, usually through food, but also by direct contact with food animals or through environmental spread: antimicrobial resistance is therefore a food safety problem.

The WHO Director-General launched today a six-point policy package building on WHO's 2001 AMR containment strategy as well as new evidence and approaches that have emerged in the last decade. The package is available at:
World Health Day 2011.
Contact: Awa Aidara-Kane (Tel: +41 22 791 3569 - E-mail:

The WHO Office for Europe also launched today a publication Tackling antibiotic resistance from a food safety perspective in Europe
Contact at the WHO EURO Office: Hilde Kruse (Tel: +39 06 4877 525 E-mail:

Nuclear Emergency in Japan - WHO's response

In response to the nuclear accident in Japan, many questions have been raised internationally regarding the potential impact on food safety. The INFOSAN Secretariat is closely collaborating with the Japanese authorities to share information with the INFOSAN members on the food testing in Japan and the risk management strategies implemented. The INFOSAN Secretariat is also collecting information from the INFOSAN member countries on food control measures being implemented nationally.

Information is being uploaded to the closed INFOSAN website on a regular basis to ensure the network is kept up to date. In addition, WHO is working with experts to assess the risk and gather information needed to advise food safety authorities. Some background information on nuclear accidents and radioactive contamination of food was published on 30 March at: INFOSAN Note: Radionuclides and Food [pdf 180 kb].
This note was also provided to all INFOSAN members and will be updated as required.

Questions and answers for the general public

WHO and FAO produced a series of questions and answers to address some of the growing international concerns over the safety of food produced in Japan. Regularly updated, the Q&As are available at: FAQs: Japan nuclear concerns.

First Global Meeting of INFOSAN

The First Global Meeting of INFOSAN held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates from 14 to 16 December 2010 was attended by 150 participants from 65 countries. The full meeting report will be available by the end of April at:
First Global Meeting of INFOSAN.

New INFOSAN document available: INFOSAN Progress Report 2004-2010.
Contact for INFOSAN: Andrea Ellis (Tel: +41 22 791 1676 - E-mail:

GLEWS (Global Early Warning System for major animal diseases, including zoonoses)

Joint cross-sectoral risk assessment of potential health threats emerging at the human-animal-ecosystems interface will be a main focus for strengthening GLEWS. This mechanism allows the early identification of risks and continuous risk assessment through triangulation of knowledge, expertise and disciplines from the three organizations (FAO, OIE, WHO). More information is available at:
Contact: Bernadette Abela-Ridder (Tel: +41 22 791 2072 - E-mail:

Codex Trust Fund - 2011 support levels for eligible countries

Applications for support from the Codex Trust Fund in 2010 were received from 56 eligible countries. Resources available to the Codex Trust Fund will allow approximately 300 participants to be supported in 2011 to attend Codex meetings, task forces and working groups. Increased levels of support will be made available for Codex training courses with 6 workshops in 5 Codex regions currently slated to enhance country participation in Codex meetings. Technical and scientific input to the Codex process will be supported primarily through funding for data surveys on mycotoxins in sorghum in 4 countries in Africa.

More information is available at: Codex Trust Fund.
Contact: Catherine Mulholland (Tel: +41 22 791 3080 - E-mail:

JEMRA - Call for Data

The 42nd session of the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene has proposed to undertake new work to address the specific problems associated with the control of microbiological hazards in melons.

New publication available on the web