June 7 each year is marked globally by the ‘World Food Safety Day’ as per the World Health Organization (WHO), observed annually to raise awareness about foodborne risks and help prevent, detect, and manage untoward diseases, in essence contributing to sustainable human development through proper food security. This year, i.e. on June 7, 2021, the global food safety watchdogs are especially highlighting the risks associated with harmful eating practices, in the backdrop of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, which is believed to have begun spreading among humans two years ago from a ‘wet market’ in China’s Wuhan.
The need to establish a world food safety day was discussed in several sessions of the United Nations general assembly (UNGA) from 2016 onwards. A resolution was adopted on December 20, 2018, by the assembly to mark June 7 as the day to “celebrate the myriad benefits of safe food”. Through World Food Safety Day, WHO works to mainstream food safety in the public agenda and reduce the burden of foodborne diseases globally. “Food safety is everyone’s business,” according to the public health agency.
The World Health Assembly (WHA) passed a resolution on August 3, 2020, to declare June 7 – the World Food Safety Day – as an important day to raise awareness at all levels about the importance of food safety, and for promoting and facilitating actions to prevent foodborne diseases at local, national, regional and global levels; to strengthen global efforts for food safety to reduce the burden of foodborne diseases.
On World Food Safety Day this year, the theme is ‘Safe food today for a healthy tomorrow’. With this, WHO intends to stress the fact that the production and consumption of safe food have immediate and long-term benefits for people, the planet, and the economy. “Recognizing the systemic connections between the health of people, animals, plants, the environment, and the economy will help us meet the needs of the future,” WHO stated.
Since foodborne diseases are usually invisible to the eye and infectious or toxic in nature, Food safety has a critical role in assuring that food stays safe at every stage of the food chain – from production to harvest, processing, storage, distribution, all the way to preparation and consumption. A key precaution is preventing contamination through bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemical substances.
“Food safety is a shared responsibility between governments, producers, and consumers. Everyone has a role to play from farm to table to ensure the food we consume is safe and healthy,” read an event update on the WHO website.
On World Food Safety Day, it must be mentioned that while there is currently no evidence that suggests that the transmission of Covid-19 is associated with food, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that proper food safety etiquette is followed in general. This includes washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before preparing or eating food, and keep strict checks on the possibility of contamination of food products during storage or packaging.