Fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables farmers' market in Budapest, Hungary.
Photo:FAO/G.Agostinucci

Why improving food safety is important

Access to sufficient amounts of safe food is key to sustaining life and promoting good health. Foodborne illnesses are usually infectious or toxic in nature and often invisible to the plain eye, caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances entering the body through contaminated food or water.

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.

With an estimated 600 million cases of foodborne illnesses annually, unsafe food is a threat to human health and economies, disproportionally affecting vulnerable and marginalized people, especially women and children, populations affected by conflict, and migrants. An estimated 420 000 people around the world die every year after eating contaminated food and children under 5 years of age carry 40% of the foodborne disease burden, with 125 000 deaths every year.

World Food Safety Day on 7 June aims to draw attention and inspire action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks, contributing to food security, human health, economic prosperity, agriculture, market access, tourism and sustainable development. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) jointly facilitate the observance of World Food Safety Day, in collaboration with Member States and other relevant organizations. This international day is an opportunity to strengthen efforts to ensure that the food we eat is safe, mainstream food safety in the public agenda and reduce the burden of foodborne diseases globally.

WHO/FAO Poster

Get involved!

Whether you grow, process, transport, store, distribute, sell, prepare, serve or consume food, you have a role to play in keeping it safe. Take part in the celebration!

Check the many events and participate using FAO's promotional material.

Food safety is everyone’s business

Under the theme “Food safety, everyone’s business”, the action-oriented campaign promotes global food safety awareness and calls upon countries and decision makers, the private sector, civil society, UN organizations and the general public to take action.

The way in which food is produced, stored, handled and consumed affects the safety of our food. Complying with Global food standards, establishing effective regulatory food control systems including emergency preparedness and response, providing access to clean water, applying good agriculture practices (terrestrial, aquatic, livestock, horticulture), strengthening the use of food safety management systems by food business operators, and building capacities of consumers to make healthy food choices are some ways in which governments, international organizations, scientists, the private sector and civil society work to ensure food safety.

Food safety is a shared responsibility between governments, producers and consumers. Everybody has a role to play from farm to table to ensure the food we consume is safe and will not cause damages to our health. Through World Food Safety Day, WHO pursues its efforts to mainstream food safety in the public agenda and reduce the burden of foodborne diseases globally.

#WorldFoodSafetyDay #FoodSafety #SafeFood

Virtual Event

Event poster

Safe food now for a healthy tomorrow

7 June 2021 | 13:00-13:45 CEST (GMT +2)

The discussion will focus on the crucial role of science in keeping food safe throughout the food chain. A few examples of successful and inspiring food safety stories will be shared from across the world.

Follow the event live or watch the recording.

Did you know?

  • Unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances causes more than 200 diseases.
  • Recent estimates indicate that the impact of unsafe food costs low- and middle-income economies around US$ 95 billion in lost productivity each year.
  • Good hygiene practices in the food and agricultural sectors help to reduce the emergence and spread of foodborne diseases.

Source: WHO 2020

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