provides a bounty of delicious choices to shoppers around the world. But there’s
a dangerous downside to globalized supply chains: devastating crop diseases and
foodborne illnesses. Each year, 1 in 10 people—700 million worldwide—get sick
from food contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins or chemicals. Of
these, 420,000 people die each year because of these issues, according to the
World Health Organization (WHO). All this su;ering carries a hefty price tag,
too: In just the U.S., foodborne diseases result in an annual economic burden
of US$80 billion.
To manage both public health and ;nancial risks, organizations are launching projects to prevent and combat food safety threats. While leveraging lessons learned in other parts of the world, project teams are adapting food safety
programs to their own regions, implementing new inspection processes and
working to identify disease-resistant crops.
“;e internationalization of the food chain—with food produced in one
part of the world, manufactured in another and then exported to another for
consumption—is making a big di;erence in how we manage food safety,” says
Peter Sousa Hoejskov, technical lead of food safety for WHO’s Western Paci;c
region, Manila, Philippines. At WHO, Mr. Hoejskov spearheads projects to help
countries strengthen their food safety systems.
In 2015, Mr. Hoejskov’s team executed a project to create food safety guidelines for Cambodia, which had seen a rash of outbreaks of foodborne diseases
The modern food system
Each year, 1 in
get sick from food
parasites, toxins or