The First International Food Safety Conference, 12-13 February 2019
On 12-13 February 2019, over 700 delegates gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for The First International Food Safety Conference , hosted jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the African Union (AU).
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that food safety “is everybody’s issue” and that the conference was an opportunity to “learn, build and innovate”, to create strong networks between countries and sectors. He also emphasised the importance of INFOSAN and reminded delegates that “INFOSAN supports countries to manage food safety risks by sharing information, experiences and solutions”.
A follow-up event, the International Forum on Food Safety and Trade, which will focus on interlinkages between food safety and trade, is scheduled to be hosted by WTO in Geneva (23-24 April). The two meetings are expected to galvanize support and lead to actions in the key areas that are strategic for the future of food safety.
International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN)
Increasing globalization of food trade increases the risk of contaminated food spreading quickly around the globe.
Through INFOSAN, WHO assists Member States in managing food safety risks, ensuring rapid sharing of information during food safety emergencies to stop the spread of contaminated food from one country to another. INFOSAN also facilitates the sharing experiences and tested solutions in and between countries in order to optimize future interventions to protect the health of consumers.
The International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) is a global network of national food safety authorities, managed jointly by FAO and WHO with the secretariat in WHO. National authorities of 188 Member States are part of the network
INFOSAN in action to prevent cases of Listeriosis caused by contaminated frozen vegetables
Since 2015, an outbreak of invasive Listeriosis, caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes, has been ongoing in five European countries, resulting in 47 cases over a multi-year period. This outbreak has been linked by whole genome sequencing (WGS) to frozen corn and possibly other frozen vegetables processed at a single plant in Hungary. Since this outbreak was identified, one case of Listeriosis was reported outside of Europe, in Australia, that was found to be highly related to the current outbreak strain.
The implicated frozen vegetables have since been recalled from the market. Many of the recalled products were recently determined to have been exported to over 100 countries. WHO, through the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN), has been actively engaging with members in recipient countries to ensure distribution details are received and risk management measures are implemented, including recalls and public communication.
INFOSAN in action to control an outbreak of salmonellosis linked to infant formula
An outbreak of salmonellosis infections among infants was identified in France in December 2017. French authorities were able to link cases to the consumption of certain infant formula products, produced by a single manufacturer in France and contaminated with Salmonella Agona.
Recalls of the implicated infant formula products as well as all other products produced by this manufacturer since February 2017 were subsequently issued and overseen by French authorities. Many of the recalled products were exported to over 80 countries and territories. The INFOSAN Emergency Contact Point in France rapidly shared the distribution details of the affected products with the INFOSAN Secretariat.
"Given the global nature of our food supply, INFOSAN continues to provide an important platform for information sharing on international food safety issues. Australia looks forward to further developing relationships with our INFOSAN colleagues and building a strong global network for food safety"
Food Incident Duty Team, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, INFOSAN Emergency Contact Point, Australia