The FAO/WHO International Food Safety Authorities Network in Review, 2004-2018 : Learning from the Past and Looking to the Future

Savelli, Carmen Joseph and Bradshaw, Adam and Ben Embarek, Peter and Mateus, Céu (2019) The FAO/WHO International Food Safety Authorities Network in Review, 2004-2018 : Learning from the Past and Looking to the Future. Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, 16 (7). pp. 480-488. ISSN 1535-3141

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Contemporary patterns of global food trade necessitate cross-border communication between government authorities when unsafe food enters international commerce. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)/World Health Organization (WHO) International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN), established in 2004, facilitates urgent communication between >600 members from 188 of the 194 FAO and WHO Member States around the world and supports the strengthening of food safety systems in an effort to mitigate the global burden of foodborne disease. For nearly 15 years, INFOSAN has been operating as a global, virtual community of practice (CoP), fostering knowledge transfer and exchange between members, and enabling crucial international communication during food safety emergencies. During this time, a number of important partnerships have been forged, including with other networks like PulseNet International. Complementarity, and cooperation between global networks like INFOSAN and PulseNet is vital to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of global efforts to curb foodborne illness. Since 2011, detailed data related to the patterns of information exchange during 293 food safety emergencies communicated through INFOSAN have been documented systematically. An analysis of these data reveals that a relatively limited number of active members from a select group of Member States contribute the majority of information exchanged through the network. For example, nine (5%) Member States were each involved in 24 or more food safety events communicated through INFOSAN between 2011 and 2017, whereas 123 (65%) Member States were involved in three events or less, including 36 (19%) involved in none. These data also demonstrate that although the overall responsiveness of members during emergencies has improved in recent years, impediments to rapid and efficient information sharing still persist. A number of potential barriers to active participation in INFOSAN have been hypothesized, but members themselves have not been conferred with on their relative importance. As a member-driven network, future research to investigate the experiences of INFOSAN members in a rigorous and systematic manner is recommended. Such work could illuminate the specific areas in which to introduce operational shifts by the INFOSAN Secretariat, to strengthen the global CoP, increase the value of INFOSAN among members, and have a robust and meaningful impact at country level to reduce the burden of foodborne disease globally.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Foodborne Pathogens and Disease
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? communicationcommunity of practiceemergency responsefood and agriculture organization of the united nationsfood safetyfoodborne illnessinfosaninternational networksworld health organizationfood sciencemicrobiologyapplied microbiology and biotechnologyanim ??
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Deposited On:
28 Nov 2019 11:45
Last Modified:
28 Nov 2023 11:32