As Guyana continues to implement and enforce measures to address food safety, Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder today departed  Guyana to participate in the first ever International Food Safety Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The conference, which will be held on the 12th to the 13th of February, is being held under the theme ‘The future of food safety: Transforming knowledge into action for people, economies and the environment’ and will see strategic actions being defined through Ministerial panels involving health, trade and agriculture officials and experts thematic sessions.

The conference, co-organised by United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO), World Trade Organization (WTO) and African Union (AU) Commission International Conference on Food Safety, will bring together Ministers and representatives of national governments, senior policy makers as well as representatives of non-state actor groups from all regions of the world to engage in an urgent reflection on food safety challenges.

Some of the challenges include identifying key actions and strategies to address current and future challenges to food safety globally and strengthening commitments at the highest political level to scale up food safety in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

With an estimated 600 million cases of foodborne illnesses annually, unsafe food is seen as a threat to human health and economies globally. Additionally, ongoing changes in climate, global food production and supply systems are affecting consumers, industries and the planet itself. Moreover, the burden of unsafe food disproportionally affects vulnerable and marginalized people and poses sustainability and development challenges.

Despite the growing recognition of the fundamental role food safety plays in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number two (Zero Hunger) and the main objectives of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition, efforts to strengthen food safety systems remain fragmented and the gains, particularly in many developing countries, have been well below expectations.

With that in mind, the two day conference will seek to address and craft solutions to these areas of concern. Some of the areas identified for discussion include issues of the burden of foodborne diseases and the benefits of investing in safe food, safe and sustainable food systems in an era of accelerated climate change, science, innovation and digital transformation at the service of food safety, empowering consumers to make healthy choices and support sustainable food systems.

It is expected that these discussed will result in the alignment of food safety strategies and approaches across sectors and borders, reinforcing efforts to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and supporting the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition.

The conference will result in a high-level political statement advocating for increased and better coordinated collaboration and support to improve food safety globally.