World Food Safety Day 2024


Jun. 5 2024

On this World Food Safety Day approaches, Laure-Anne Mathieu, Global Food Audit Manager with Bureau Veritas draws an overview of this essential aspect of human and economic life – highlighting the need for stringent standards and procedures.

Every year, a tenth of the world population – some 600 million people – falls ill due to contaminated food. Lack of food safety causes an estimated 420,000 deaths per year[1]. The economic burden of unsafe food is heavy, especially for middle- and low-income countries: according to the World Bank, food-borne illnesses cost these countries up to US$110 billion per year[2]. In the European Union, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reports several thousand of cases each year[3] – and the numbers are increasing[4], according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). 

In such a context, World Food Safety Day takes on a particular significance. Established by the United Nations in 2018[5], and observed on June 7th[6], World Food Safety Day aims to raise awareness about the global burden of more than 200[7] foodborne diseases and the crucial measures needed to prevent them. By promoting best practices, awareness, and cooperation among governments, producers, and consumers, World Food Safety Day plays a vital role in preventing foodborne illnesses, protecting public health, and enhancing a safe and steady access to food every day – while also contributing to economic development by fostering trust in the food industry – and facilitating global trade.


A strategic imperative that goes beyond public health 

Just as food affects all aspects of the health and function of our organisms, food safety directly impacts both individuals and communities. The economic repercussions of foodborne illnesses are substantial. 

For organizations, food recalls are expensive and can lead to severe brand damage, undermining consumer trust and loyalty. “Transparency and traceability in the food supply chain play pivotal roles in ensuring this trust,” states Laure-Anne Mathieu, Global Food Audit Manager at Bureau Veritas. “By implementing rigorous and independent safety procedures, and providing clear information about food origins and handling, businesses can reassure consumers about the safety of their products.” 

Today’s innovations in the agri-food industry also call for a shift in risk assessment and preventive control. “Food safety standards must stay up-to-date and evolve alongside the agri-food industry itself,” explains Laure-Anne Mathieu. “New developments, such as alternative meats and vegan/vegetarian products, new manufacturing and management methods, new forms of packaging, and even new pesticides used in agriculture, can all significantly impact the product transformation process. These factors need to be properly monitored with adapted norms and certification procedures to ensure maximum food safety for the end user.”


International standards for increased protection 

To protect consumer health and ensure exacting standards throughout the food supply chain, several standards have been implemented worldwide. At the forefront is the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), established in 2000[8]. Though it does not provide certifications, its Benchmarking Requirements are widely trusted as the highest standards in food safety[9].  International standards for increased protection

In the EU, a cornerstone of food safety regulation is the General Food Law Regulation (EC 178/2002)[10], which lays down the foundational principles of food law in the EU. It establishes key provisions such as risk analysis, ensuring that decisions are informed by scientific risk assessments, and traceability, requiring that food products can be tracked through all stages of production, processing, and distribution. 

Private standards, such as the FSSC 22000, are also in place. Its latest version, implemented in April 2024, includes several additional requirements that align with increased legislation and heightened customer expectations. “This new version places greater emphasis on a more robust food safety culture for enhanced safe food ,” says Laure-Anne Mathieu. “Labeling, food defense, and fraud mitigation have also been strengthened. Allergen management and environmental monitoring protocols – such as those addressing food waste – have been reinforced. In terms of quality control, the FSSC 22000 requires organizations to maintain active management and documentation at every stage of the manufacturing process.”

These constant updates and evolutions create a robust system that safeguards public health, promotes consumer confidence, and protects citizens from foodborne risks.


New avenues for progress 

For organizations to uphold food safety standards and ensure compliance with regulations, “regular testing and inspection – preferably by a trusted and independent third party – are essential components of food safety management systems,” stresses Laure-Anne Mathieu. They help identify potential hazards and prevent contamination throughout the production process. 

Certification services, such as ISO 22000, BRC, and IFS, provide businesses with recognized standards for food safety management systems. “Achieving certification not only demonstrates compliance with regulatory requirements but also enhances market access and fosters consumer trust by reassuring customers about the safety and quality of products,” adds Laure-Anne Mathieu. 

At the same time, technological advancements are increasingly transforming the landscape of food safety testing and inspection. Rapid testing methods enable quicker detection of contaminants, while blockchain technology facilitates transparent traceability of food products throughout the supply chain. 

“Looking ahead, says Laure-Anne Mathieu, artificial intelligence is poised to revolutionize food safety practices, offering advanced analytics and predictive capabilities to identify potential risks and streamline inspection processes. Embracing these technological innovations holds the promise of further enhancing food safety and sustainability, strengthening consumer protection, and driving continuous improvement in the food industry.”


Bureau Veritas: helping organizations to provide optimal food safety 

In the context of a globalized, complex supply chain, rapidly evolving industrial processes, and an ever-expanding regulatory framework, Bureau Veritas supports players across the food industry with a full range of certification and auditing services. Our certification enables our clients to meet the highest safety and quality standards, gain access to international markets, and fulfill their regulatory requirements.


[1] for these 2 figures