Call to improve food safety in low- and middle-income countries—From hazards to risks and from farm to fork

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The Milkmaid, by Johannes Vermeer, 1660.

Food safety hazards are increasingly recognized as a major public health problem worldwide, yet among developing countries, there is limited understanding of the wider-ranging socioeconomic costs of unsafe food and the benefits of remedial or preventative measures. This limited evidence base has led many countries to underinvest in food safety, or invest inefficiently in reaction to serious outbreaks of foodborne illness, other food scares, or trade interruptions. For many countries experiencing rapid urbanization and dietary changes, the growing complexity of food safety hazards is outpacing if not overwhelming prevailing food safety management capacity—both in government and in supply chains.

A new report strengthens the economic case for increased public investment and other policy attention on food safety in developing countries.

The report synthesizes evidence of the economic costs of unsafe food in relation to both domestic markets and trade.

The report positions food safety as an integral part of economic development and food system modernization.

And the report provides guidance on improving food safety awareness and behaviour from farm to fork.

The five authors of the report are Steven Jaffee, of the World Bank; Spencer Henson, of the University of Guelph; Laurian Unnevehr, of the University of Urbana-Champaign; Delia Grace, of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI); and Emilie Cassou, World Bank consultant.

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