UN agencies consult with consumer groups on promoting food safety

8 June 2005

The Geneva-based UN World Health Organization (WHO) is hosting this week a gathering of consumer associations from 25 countries to discuss ways they can work together to help improve national food quality and safety standards.

The Geneva-based UN World Health Organization (WHO) is hosting this week a gathering of consumer associations from 25 countries to discuss ways they can work together to help improve national food quality and safety standards.

The meeting, which runs through 10 June at WHO headquarters in Geneva, is co-sponsored by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It represents a new effort to broaden the technical advice it receives in advance of framing policy recommendations to its Member States.

Sub-standard food is a potential danger to every human being on this earth and there are already an estimated two billion annual cases of food-borne illness, WHO says. It is also the cause of frequent trade rejections with the resulting economic drawbacks. Consumer organization input into food safety is invaluable, given their ability to reach every person potentially affected by unsafe food.

At the meeting, WHO and FAO will work with the consumer groups to devise means of identifying and prioritizing the largest risks to human health in food, be they chemical or microbiological, the UN public health agency said. A set of Guidelines for consumer organizations’ involvement in food safety efforts will be completed and launched on 10 June.

The consultations were organized in collaboration with the Safe Food International project of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), an international non-governmental organization that seeks to establish a common platform for consumer groups and others in advocating for stronger national food safety standards.

 

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