Access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food is key to sustaining life and promoting good health. Unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemical substances can cause more than 200 different diseases – ranging from diarrhoea to cancers. Around the world, an estimated 600 million – almost 1 in 10 people – fall ill after eating contaminated food each year, resulting in 420 000 deaths and the loss of 33 million healthy life years (DALYs).
Food safety, nutrition, and food security are closely linked. Unsafe food creates a vicious cycle of disease and malnutrition, particularly affecting infants, young children, elderly, and the sick.
In addition to contributing to food and nutrition security, a safe food supply also supports national economies, trade, and tourism, stimulating sustainable development. The globalization of food trade, a growing world population, climate change and rapidly changing food systems have an impact on the safety of food.