World Organisation for Animal Health

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OIE Activities on animal production food safety

The OIE provides guidance to its Members to assist them in meeting food safety objectives through different activities.

International standards

Adopted by all 182 Member Countries, OIE international Standards serve as a basis for setting national legislation and ensuring improvements of terrestrial animal health and welfare and veterinary public health worldwide. Standards that address foodborne pathogenic agents of animal origin focus on eliminating hazards arising prior to the slaughter of animals or the primary processing of their products. They also address the role of Veterinary Services in food safety systems, and the links between food production, processing, and distribution. 

The relationship between the OIE and the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) is particularly important when developing international standards because risks to human health and food safety may arise at the farm and any subsequent stage in the food production continuum. The OIE and Codex collaborate closely in the development of their respective standards relevant to the whole food production continuum, taking care to avoid gaps and contradictions.

From 2002 until 2017, the Animal Production Food Safety Working Group guided the OIE’s work programme in animal production food safety. The group, composed of high-level experts from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and Codex, as well as internationally recognised experts in animal production food safety from around the globe, also contributed to create a strong working relationship between the OIE and the Codex Alimentarius.

At the 85th OIE General Session, in May 2017, the OIE World Assembly of Delegates agreed to disband the Animal Production Food Safety Working Group noting that its mandate had been fulfilled and that activities concerning animal production food safety were now well integrated into OIE activities. The OIE will pursue its work in this area through the ongoing work of the Terrestrial Code Commission, through other fora, for example as part of the annual FAO-OIE-WHO Tripartite, and the participation in Codex fora in relation to the development of standards related to animal production food safety.

Monitoring animal diseases worldwide

Veterinary Services play a key role in the investigation of, and response to, foodborne disease outbreaks which may be attributable to or involve animal products, including the implementation of control measures. This work should be carried out in close collaboration with public health professionals, analysts, epidemiologists, food producers, processors and traders and any others involved.

In order to support them in these tasks, the OIE publishes disease alerts notified by its Members, to provide transparency on the animal health situation, in a platform called OIE-WAHIS, the World Animal Health Information System. This activity is key to enable better preparedness in countries, and to improve trust between countries within international trade.

Because of the global nature of the food trade, Veterinary Authorities should work with other national agencies in reporting to international emergency foodborne disease networks, such as the WHO International Network of Food Safety Authorities (INFOSAN).

 

 


Creating strong international and regional networks

The expertise of the OIE is largely dependent on its network of Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres. There are currently several Centres on food safety as well as on foodborne parasites. Their role is to provide the OIE with the latest scientific information on these topics and to share their expertise with OIE members when relevant.

 

To better focus on the topic of animal production food safety within countries, the OIE Delegates from each of the OIE Members appoint a dedicated Focal Point for this topic. These Focal Points usually work in the Veterinary Authority and are encouraged to actively participate in the OIE standard setting process for work related to animal production food safety, as well as their implementation in their countries.

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