In an increasingly globalized world that is experiencing changes in climate, pandemics, and other agriculture- and supply chain-disrupting events, opportunity grows for food safety to become compromised. To quickly address and contain negative consequences to food safety in the event of emergency, there is a need for collaboration and communication among competent authorities and food industry stakeholders worldwide.

Organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the sixth annual World Food Safety Day (WFSD), which takes place on June 7, 2024, encourages food safety competent authorities, food businesses, and other stakeholders in the food supply chain to “Prepare for the Unexpected.” In recognition of WFSD 2024, this article discusses FAO/WHO’s involvement in global food safety emergency preparedness and its historical intersections with WFSD, and shares resources to help food safety actors build resiliency against incidents like natural disasters and foodborne illness outbreaks.

The idea of WFSD was first proposed in 2016 at the 39th session of the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission. In 2018, at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, a resolution was adopted that recognized the global burden of foodborne disease (according to FAO/WHO, foodborne illness is responsible for 420,000 preventable deaths every year) and officially established WFSD to strengthen and elevate global food safety efforts. The first WFSD took place on June 7, 2019.

The theme “Prepare for the Unexpected” was chosen for World Food Safety Day 2024 because 2024 also marks 20 years since the formation of FAO/WHO’s International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN), which serves the critical purpose of connecting food safety authorities across the world to facilitate information-sharing about food safety emergencies. The rapid information-sharing enabled by INFOSAN has improved the prevention, detection, and management of contamination along food and feed supply chains.

Additionally, FAO/WHO’s Codex Alimentarius Principles and Guidelines for the Exchange of Information in Food Safety Emergency Situations (CXG 19-1995), which provides uniform advice for responding to food safety emergencies, supports the necessity of INFOSAN, stating, “Due to trade globalization and increased import/export operations, it is possible that the management of a food safety emergency is the responsibility of more than one competent authority, and timely and coordinated collaboration among all relevant stakeholders, including food business operators and consumers, is required to ensure an effective response.”

WFSD-Inspired Food Safety Initiatives Led by International Competent Authorities 

The impact of WFSD grows every year, with more and more countries taking the opportunity to elevate the status of food safety. Leading up to WFSD 2024, FAO/WHO have highlighted a number of countries that are engaging in activities to enhance national food safety.

For example, in Kenya, the Ministry of Health is holding a three-day conference bringing together regulators and industry, which aims to strengthen partnerships, build capacities, and demystify the theme “Prepare for the Unexpected.” Additionally, in Egypt, the National Food Safety Authority (NFSA) held a symposium in commemoration of WFSD that focused on modern food control systems as a driver for innovation and investment in the agrifood sector. The symposium was followed by a series of global food safety discussions, hosted by the Egyptian Chamber of Food Industries and the Global Food Regulatory Science Society, to facilitate international collaboration, especially across the African continent.

In Türkiye (Turkey), the National Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MoAF) has organized an event to commemorate WFSD 2024 in collaboration with the Federation of Food and Beverage Associations of Türkiye, the country’s largest non-governmental food and beverage industry organization. Taking place on June 7, the day-long series of expert presentations and panels will elevate importance of food safety and highlight the efforts of MoAF and its partners regarding food safety regulation and crisis preparedness.

On July 1, for the third consecutive year, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is hosting a dedicated forum in honor of WFSD 2024, in alignment with the official WFSD theme. The commemorative event has grown to become the largest food safety gathering in the Kingdom’s history, as well as the largest food professional gathering in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Middle East, and North Africa. The purpose of the forum is to create a platform for food safety professionals to elevate regional public health and hygiene as it relates to food, and to contribute to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Resources and Open Events to Help Food Safety Stakeholders Prepare for the Unexpected

There are a number of resources and events being offered to all food industry stakeholders and the general public that are helpful in “preparing for the unexpected.” In addition to the aforementioned Codex Guidelines for Exchanging Information in Emergencies, the following industry-relevant resources and articles can be referenced to guide food safety preparedness efforts and increase knowledge about unexpected or unprecedented threats to food safety:

Informational Content

Practical Toolkits and Guidance


  • Discover USDA’s National Agricultural Library’s Food Safety and Nutrition Resources and Tools During World Food Safety Day”: On June 7 at 1:00 P.M. ET, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA’s) National Agricultural Library will hold an hour-long event to highlight credible resources aligned with the theme of WFSD 2024
  • Driving Food Safety Innovations Across Europe”: On June 7 at 10:00 P.M. CEST, the European Federation of Food Science and Technology (EFFoST) EU Horizon Project, Catalyzing Scientific Innovation into Food Safety Action (CATALYSE), will hold a two-hour webinar to promote the implementation of innovative food safety solutions that solve the real-world needs of end-users in the food supply chain
  • Food Safety: Prepare for the Unexpected”: On June 7 at 11:00 A.M. Columbia Standard Time, a free, Spanish-language webinar hosted by the Latin American and Caribbean Association of Food Science and Technology (ALACCTA) will feature presentations by industry experts on how to build resilient food safety plans (in Spanish only).