Food and Agriculture Organization Current Affairs - 2020

7 June: 1st World Food Safety Day observed

The World Food Safety Day 2019 was observed on 7 June with the theme-Food Safety, everyone’s business’. It was first ever World Food Safety Day.

Key Highlights

Background:  The WFS day was facilitated by World Health Organisation(WHO) in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of United Nations (UN). This day was instituted by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) by adopting a resolution for effect in December 2018 with an aim to highlight importance of safe food and to reduce problems related to it.

Objective: By observing World Food Safety Day, WHO pursues its efforts of mainstreaming food safety in public agenda and reducing burden of foodborne diseases globally.

Food Safety

According to WHO data, almost 1 in 10 people in the world fall ill after eating contaminated, with almost 1,25,000 deaths of children under 5 years. Around 600 million annual cases of the foodborne disease have been reported every year. The development of many low-and middle-income economies is hindered due to unsafe food. As result, these countries lose around US$ 95 billion in productivity associated with illness, disability, and premature death suffered by workers.

Initiatives in India

On occasion of first-ever World Food Safety Day, Union Minister of Health launched various initiatives such as-

  • State Food Safety Index (SFSI): The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), under Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, has developed first State Food Safety Index (SFSI) to measure performance of States on five parameters of food safety. This is an effort of ministry to motivate states to work towards ensuring safe food for citizens.
  • Raman 1.0: It is hand-held battery operated equipment that performs rapid detection, in less than a minute of economically driven adulteration in fats, ghee and edible oils.
  • Food Safety Magic Box: It is do-it-yourself food testing kit comprising of a manual and equipment to check for food adulterants. This can serve as innovative solution to take food safety to schools.
  • Eat Right Awards: instituted by FSSAI, with aim to recognize contributions made by food companies and individuals to empower citizens to choose safe and healthy food options so as to improve their health and well-being.

2019 Global Report on Food Crises

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) makes the following observations in the 2019 Global Report on Food Crises report:

  • More than 113 million people across 53 countries experienced “acute hunger” last year because of wars and climate disasters, with Africa the worst-hit region.
  • Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan and Syria were among the eight nations accounting for two-thirds of the total number of people worldwide exposed to the risk of famine.
  • African Nations were “disproportionally” affected as close to 72 million people on the continent suffered acute hunger.
  • The key factors which drove the hunger were Conflict and insecurity along with economic turbulence and climate-related shocks like drought and floods.
  • In countries on the verge of famine, up to 80 per cent of the populations were dependent on agriculture. They need both emergency humanitarian aid for food and measures to help boost agriculture.
  • The strain put on countries hosting a large number of refugees, including war-torn Syria as well as Bangladesh, which has received more than a million Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar has been highlighted in the report.
  • The overall situation slightly improved in 2018 compared to 2017 when 124 million people suffered acute hunger. This reduction in numbers was partially owed to the fact that some countries in Latin America and the Asia Pacific region, for instance, were less affected by weather disasters that had struck in previous years.
  • The year-on-year trend of more than 100 million people facing famine was unlikely to change in the face of continued crises.
  • High levels of acute and chronic malnutrition in children living in emergency conditions remained of grave concern.

The Global Food Crises Report is an annual study launched three years ago which takes stock of the countries facing the greatest difficulties in tackling hunger.