World Food Safety Day, observed annually on 7 June, is a global platform to raise awareness about the importance of safe and nutritious food. The theme for World Food Safety Day 2023 is “Food Standards Save Lives,” emphasising the critical role that food standards play in protecting public health and preventing foodborne illnesses.
Food standards are regulations, guidelines, and practices established by national and international bodies to ensure our food’s safety, quality, and integrity. These standards encompass various aspects of food production, processing, handling, and distribution, aiming to mitigate risks and protect consumers from potential hazards.
The most common global food standards include Codex Alimentarius, International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). Codex Alimentarius has developed HACCP, Good hygiene standards and other standards for safe food processing and handling.
At the same time, ISO has developed various tools like ISO900, and ISO22000, also known as Food safety management systems and other standards. The Fiji Government also developed and implemented Food Safety Regulations in 2009 to ensure consumers get safe and hygienic food. However, to achieve the global food safety goal, every commercial food processing establishment must implement food standards, from industry to restaurants.
Ensuring Food Safety
Foodborne illnesses significantly threaten public health, causing millions of yearly illnesses and deaths. Food standards play a crucial role in preventing such outbreaks by setting hygiene, sanitation, and proper food handling guidelines at every supply chain stage. From farm to fork, adherence to food safety standards helps reduce the risk of contamination, microbial growth, and the transmission of pathogens.
Promoting Nutritional Integrity
Food standards encompass nutritional aspects beyond safety concerns. They regulate the composition, labelling, and advertising of food products to ensure accurate and transparent information for consumers. By setting guidelines for nutrient content, fortification, and labelling requirements, food standards support public health initiatives, facilitate informed consumer choices, and combat malnutrition and dietary-related diseases.
Food standards ensure that the food they purchase and consume meets established safety and quality criteria. Clear labelling and accurate information about ingredients, allergens, and nutritional content enable consumers to make informed choices, cater to dietary needs, and protect vulnerable populations such as those with allergies or special dietary requirements.
Supporting Sustainable Food Systems
Food standards contribute to developing sustainable food systems by promoting environmentally friendly practices, responsible resource management, and ethical production methods. Standards related to organic farming, fair trade, animal welfare, and sustainable fisheries encourage practices that minimise environmental impact, promote biodiversity, and foster social equity in the food industry.
These standards form the backbone of food safety systems, providing guidelines and regulations ensuring safe and nutritious food production, handling, and distribution. Adhering to food standards can prevent foodborne illnesses, promote healthy eating habits, facilitate international trade, empower consumers, and contribute to sustainable food systems.
Let us recognise the critical role of food standards and work together to build a safer, healthier, and more sustainable future for all.
Department of Food Science and Home Economics
College of Engineering, Science and Technology