The safe food imperative: accelerating progress in low- and middle-income countries

Food safety hazards are increasingly being recognized as a major public health problem worldwide, yet among developing countries, there is limited understanding of the wider-ranging socio-economic 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. This report strengthens the economic case for increased public investment and other policy attention on food safety in developing countries. It is directed primarily at policy-makers, although researchers, development practitioners and food safety specialists will also find its content of value. By synthesizing and interpreting the available evidence on 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. It goes on to provide guidance on ways in which public policy and investment can improve food safety awareness and behavior from farm to fork.

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