WHO calls for experts to join food safety advisory group

Posted: 10 August 2020 | | No comments yet

The World Health Organization (WHO) is seeking experts to advise work in the future of food safety and the establishment of a global taskforce on food safety.

WHO calls for experts to join food safety advisory group

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for experts to serve in the WHO technical advisory group (TAG) to advise work in food safety.

TAG aims to:

  • Identify and describe current and future challenges along the agri-food supply chain
  • Advise WHO on strategic directions to be prioritised to improve national food safety system
  • Identify interventions and activities to improve food safety for WHO’s analysis
  • Advise WHO on the update of the Global Strategy for food safety and any other matters (implementation, monitoring and evaluation) relating to the Strategy
  • Advise WHO on the establishment of a global taskforce on food safety impact measurement to measure progress towards the implementation of the global strategy and achieving Sustainable Development Goals
  • Advise WHO on requests specified in any current and future food safety-related resolutions and/or decisions adopted by the WHO governing bodies.

From data obtained in 2010, it was estimated that unsafe food causes 600 million foodborne illnesses, 420,000 deaths, 33 million Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) per year based on the first global report on the estimates of foodborne illnesses burden published by WHO in 2015, which the TAG and WHO aim to reduce. 

Compared with one decade ago, food safety is said to be facing many emerging risks from a globalised and much more complex agri-food supply chain, unsustainable food systems, the influence of disease transmission pattern by environmental changes and human activities. Besides challenges, WHO noted that evolving new technologies, such as blockchain, whole-genome sequencing, biotechnology and nanotechnology, bring new insights and uncertainties into the risk management of food safety.

WHO explained that TAG applicants should at least have one of the required expertise as listed below: 

  • Surveillance and detection for foodborne pathogens, contaminants and diseases 
  • Food safety emergency preparedness and response
  • Microbiological and toxicological food safety risk analysis
  • Food law and regulations 
  • Food fraud
  • New food technologies and research in food science and agricultural science
  • Veterinary science, crop health, biosecurity and climate change
  • Antimicrobial resistance in the food chain
  • Economics and trade of food systems
  • Nutrition and food security. 

WHO will update the Global Strategy for Food Safety: safer food for better health that was endorsed by the Executive Board in 2002 and aims to deliver a new strategy by 2022 with help from TAG. 

Applicants’ responses of the online application form will be reviewed on the basis of the criteria listed above by a selection panel of three or more WHO technical staff. The purpose of the panel review is to determine whether the applicants meet all the essential requirements.

Appointment as TAG members will be for a period of two years. The names of affiliations of TAG members will be public information. Experts will be selected in their individual capacity on the basis of their expert knowledge to give advice on specific topics.

Interested applicants should complete the online application form no later than 21 August 2020 (CET).