FOOD SAFETY IS EVERYONE’S BUSINESS – ฺBangkok Post

By Ratanasiri Tilokskulchai, Managing Director, Tetra Pak (Thailand) Limited

On 7 June 2022 we mark the World Food Safety Day — an occasion established by the World Health Organization (WHO) to draw attention and mobilise action to prevent, detect and manage food-borne risks and improve human health. Safe food is essential to promoting consumer health and well-being and ending hunger, two of the 17 main UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Only when food is safe can we benefit from its nutritional value and the mental and social benefits of sharing a safe meal. Food safety, nutrition and food security are closely linked. According to WHO, unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances can cause more than 200 different diseases – ranging from diarrhoea to cancers. Unsafe food creates a vicious cycle of disease and malnutrition, particularly affecting infants, young children, the elderly and the sick. Around the world, an estimated 600 million – almost 1 in 10 people – fall ill after eating contaminated food each year, resulting in 420,000 deaths and the loss of 33 million healthy life years (DALYs). 

Six years ago the Food and Agriculture Organisation UN FAO committed to the goal of ending hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition by 2030. The current reality is that we have not been progressing fast enough towards ensuring access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food for all people. As an example, over 2 billion people did not have access to enough safe and nutritious food in 2020.

This year, World Food Safety Day reaches its fourth edition, and it is gaining more relevance worldwide, contributing to food safety, human health, economic prosperity, agriculture, market access, tourism and sustainable development. For 2022 the WHO chose the theme “Safer Food, Better Health”. With the slogan “Food safety is everyone’s business” the World Food Safety Day urges us all to play a role in maintaining food safety throughout the entire supply chain, from farm to table. And indeed we all have a role to play, in making sure the food we eat is safe and doesn’t harm our health.

At Tetra Pak we want people all over the world to have access to safe food of the highest quality. We’ve been at the forefront of innovative food processing and packaging since 1951, helping our customers meet evolving consumer needs while minimising food waste. Our company has become world-famous for its range of packages which protect both the nutritional value and the taste of the products inside. Tetra Pak’s packaging protects food without the need for preservatives or refrigeration, saving energy, and helping make safe, nutritious and flavoursome products available to more of the world’s rapidly growing population. 

The importance of food safety cannot be overemphasised — consumers rightly expect food to be safe – and so do distributors, retailers and legislators. For our customers, that means being in full control of production, from the sourcing of raw materials to the retailer’s shelf. With traceability becoming increasingly important in demonstrating food safety for manufacturers and consumers, we commit to maintaining the highest standards of safety and achieving full product traceability through the entire food processing and packaging value chain.

Today’s consumer also expects food to be consistent in taste, colour, texture and nutritional value. Our packages are designed to protect and preserve food to meet these expectations. All Tetra Pak processing and packaging equipment is designed to meet the most advanced hygiene standards, satisfy all legal obligations and minimise waste. Ensuring quality starts with the rigorous auditing of raw materials suppliers. All base materials used in our packaging are fully compliant with relevant food contact legislation. Plant automation and integration means we can ensure quality control as a product goes along the production line. 

Quality can also be compromised during transportation and distribution. We therefore carry out rigorous tests across the value chain to ensure that products are fully protected. Tetra Pak’s cutting-edge processing and packaging equipment keeps food from being spilled or spoilt in the early stages of production and our packaging solutions prolong the life of food and help prevent it from perishing – this is where we believe our greatest impacts are in reducing food losses. Hence our solutions help to prevent food loss and waste across the value chain, from the efficiency of our processing equipment in production, to the right-sizing and functionality of our packaging at consumption. Furthermore, by working to build sustainable value chains, such as through our participation in school feeding programmes and Dairy Hubs, we are helping to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture and production.

This is our vision — making food safe and available everywhere. We promise to do so in a way that protects what’s good – protecting food, protecting people, as well as protecting the planet. We recently announced our collaboration with partners to accelerate research programmes that can help address the challenges facing food systems worldwide. The initiative will also open new opportunities in the areas of food availability, safety and sustainability.

And today, World Food Safety Day, together with our customers, partners, NGOs and governments, we want to reinforce our commitment to addressing the three key challenges: increase access to safe, nutritious food, reduce food loss and waste, and build a world with secure sustainable food value systems.