Protecting human health in today's global food market

News release

Pacific islands food safety and quality consultation, Nadi, Fiji

Pacific island countries now have among the highest rates of adult obesity in the world and high rates of associated conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.

There is also growing concern in Pacific island countries about the presence in food of microbiological and chemical hazards, such as Salmonella, E. coli and Campylobacter, acrylamides, chloropropanols, marine toxins, fungal toxins, environmental pollutants, pesticide residues and veterinary drug residues.

Food-related diseases (such as obesity-related noncommunicable diseases resulting from consumption of contaminated food and water) are becoming increasingly important public health problems in the Pacific.

Protecting human health in today's global food market is, therefore, an important challenge that needs to be addressed through effective food safety and quality control systems. Pacific Island governments need to ask if they are doing enough to protect their populations and whether Pacific islanders enjoy a level of food safety and quality equivalent to that elsewhere. They also need to consider the cost of food-related diseases, including personal suffering, loss of family income, community health care costs, loss of industrial productivity and lost trade and tourism.

To establish more effective systems, Pacific island countries and areas will need to work more closely together and to coordinate different food safety and quality policies. This is essential if different food safety and quality systems are to become comparable and fully transparent.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have together identified the need for action across the Pacific to address these issues.

In line with this, an FAO/SPC/WHO Pacific Islands Food Safety and Quality Consultation is being held from 11 to 15 November in Nadi, Fiji. The participants include senior health policy-makers, food safety regulators, nutritionists and agriculture representatives from many of the Pacific island countries and areas. Also involved are representatives of the many partner organizations committed to food safety and quality improvement in the Pacific.

The Consultation aims to:

  • review the current status of food safety and quality and identify priorities in Pacific Island
  • define options for more effective control of food safety and quality in Pacific Island countries and formulate strategies that address obesity prevention and control through more effective control of the safety and quality of available food; and
  • recommend actions that can be taken by international organizations, development banks, key aid agencies and other interested parties to improve coordination of food safety and quality efforts throughout the Pacific.

For more information, please contact Dr Donald Sharp at the WHO Office in Fiji: tel.:
(679) 3304-600; Fax:(679) 3300 462 or email:

Health Topic