World Food Safety Day is celebrated annually on 7 June to raise awareness on the importance of safe food and its contribution to healthy lives, healthy economies and a healthy future.

The theme this year is Safe food now for a healthy tomorrow. Our food systems need to produce enough safe food for all. A One Health approach to food safety that recognizes the connections between the health of people, animals and the environment will improve food safety and help meet the nutritional and health needs of the future. Indeed, there is no food security without food safety.

Food safety is everyone’s business. Governments must put in place supportive regulatory frameworks that ensure access to safe and nutritious food for all. Farmers and other food producers need to adopt good agricultural practices to prevent contamination of food products at the farm level. Business operators must make sure food is safe at all stages of processing and distribution of food products. Consumers, too, have a role to play in learning about safe and healthy food so that they are empowered to demand for access to safe food.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has a longstanding record of collaborative research on risk-based approaches to improving food safety in traditional, informal markets.

ILRI leads the food safety flagship of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health. The main research focus is on mitigating aflatoxin contamination in key staples and on managing risks in traditional, informal markets for nutrient-rich perishables like meat, milk, fish and vegetables.

We commemorate this year’s World Food Safety Day by shining the spotlight on ILRI’s research on food safety. Listed below is a selection of recent food safety publications from collaborative research by ILRI and partners.

Hai Hoang Tuan Ngo, Luong Nguyen-Thanh, Phuc Pham-Duc, Sinh Dang-Xuan, Hang Le-Thi, Denis-Robichaud, J., Hung Nguyen-Viet, Trang T.H. Le, Grace, D. and Unger, F. 2021. Microbial contamination and associated risk factors in retailed pork from key value chains in Northern Vietnam. International Journal of Food Microbiology 346: 109163.

Murungi, M.K., Muloi, D.M., Muinde, P., Githigia, S.M., Akoko, J., Fèvre, E.M., Rushton, J. and Alarcon, P. 2021. The Nairobi pork value chain: Mapping and assessment of governance, challenges, and food safety issues. Frontiers in Veterinary Science 8: 581376.

Rortana, C., Hung Nguyen-Viet, Tum, S., Unger, F., Boqvist, S., Sinh Dang-Xuan, Koam, S., Grace, D., Osbjer, K., Heng, T., Sarim, S., Phirum, O., Sophia, R. and Lindahl, J.F. 2021. Prevalence of Salmonella spp. and Staphylococcus aureus in chicken meat and pork from Cambodian markets. Pathogens 10(5): 556.

Mutua, F., Kang’ethe, E. and Grace, D. 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic and its implications for food safety in East Africa. ILRI Discussion Paper 40. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.

ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute). 2021. Keeping foods safe leads to healthier people, livestock and environment. Livestock pathways to 2030: One Health Brief 4. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.

Mutua, F. 2021. Food safety in One Health. Video. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.

Join the online conversations by following the hashtags #FoodSafety, #SafeFood and #WorldFoodSafetyDay.

Photo credit: World Health Organization

World Food Safety Day 2020 poster

To mark the second World Food Safety Day that will be celebrated on 7 June 2020, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has launched an online food safety campaign and landing page at

The campaign draws attention to ILRI’s long-standing collaborative research on risk-based approaches to improving food safety in informal markets. 

On the landing page you will find a set of key messages on food safety in informal markets as well as links to news, projects, publications, photos and videos on food safety. You will also be able to read the profiles of some of the ILRI experts involved in food safety research. 

Also featured on the page are the voices of some of our partners who share in the mission of working to ensure that the food we buy and eat is safe. 

Remember: there is no food security without food safety and if it is not safe, it is not food!

Join the online conversations by following the hashtags #FoodSafety, #SafeFood and #WorldFoodSafetyDay.

Photo credit: World Health Organization

Women waiting to fetch water as cattle drink from a water pan in Taita Taveta, Kenya (photo credit: ILRI/ Juliet Kariuki)

Ecohealth approaches are designed to promote the health of people, animals and ecosystems with attention to social and ecological justice, sustainability and the relationships required to achieve a healthy future. Ecohealth approaches rely on systems thinking and the complementary efforts of transdisciplinary teams.

For the last 15 years, the global ecohealth community has been bringing together individuals and organizations to discuss ecohealth approaches. This year, the eighth biennial ecohealth conference will be held in Durban, South Africa on 22–26 June 2020. 

Participants at ecohealth 2020 are expected to include researchers, policymakers, community leaders, postgraduate students, government departments and non-governmental organizations working on ecohealth approaches towards sustainable management of the health of people, animals and ecosystems.

The organizers of the conference have extended the deadline for the submission of abstracts to 25 March 2020

To register and submit an abstract, please visit

Photo credit: Women waiting to fetch water as cattle drink from a water pan in Taita Taveta, Kenya (ILRI/ Juliet Kariuki)

Food market near Khulungira Village, in central Malawi (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).
Food market near Khulungira Village, in central Malawi (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

Today marks the first ever World Food Safety Day following the adoption in December 2018 of a resolution by the United Nations General Assembly to set aside 7 June of every year to celebrate the benefits of safe food and inspire action towards preventing and managing foodborne diseases.

In Asia and Africa, most livestock products and fresh produce are sold in informal markets. The human health burden from foodborne disease is comparable to that of malaria, HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis. Unsafe food is also a barrier to market access for poor farmers.

Food safety is a key part of the research portfolio of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). ILRI leads the food safety flagship of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH). This flagship seeks food safety solutions that can work in informal markets; it focuses primarily on mitigating aflatoxin contamination in key staples and on managing risks in informal markets for nutrient-rich perishables like meat, milk, fish and vegetables.

Our approach to food safety research is based on risk analysis. We identify the hazards in food and build the capacity of policymakers to understand risk-based approaches; policy will be more effective and efficient if based on actual risk to human health rather than the presence of hazards. We generate evidence and develop solutions to improve the safety of animal products in informal food markets.

Better management of foodborne diseases could save nearly half a million lives a year and safeguard the livelihoods of over one billion small-scale livestock producers. Indeed, there is no food security without food safety.

Some of the collaborative food safety projects that ILRI has led in the past include work on mitigating the risk of mycotoxins in the feed–dairy value chain in Kenya, improving food safety in smallholder pig value chains in Vietnam and food safety risk assessment and piloting of food safety interventions in eight countries in Africa.

Our current food safety projects seek to test market-based approaches to improve food safety in Cambodia, Vietnam, Burkina Faso and Ethiopia.  

Listed below are some recent publications on food safety by ILRI and partners.

For more information on ILRI’s food safety research, contact the A4NH food safety flagship leader Delia Grace Randolph (

Cross-bred Pigs in Kiboga District, Uganda

Cross-bred Pigs in Kiboga District, Uganda (photo credit: ILRI/Kristina Roesel).

Today is International One Health Day, an occasion celebrated around the world every year on 3 November to bring global attention to the need for One Health interactions and for the world to ‘see them in action’.

To mark this day, we highlight a new discussion paper published by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) that contributes towards a greater understanding of One Health from a largely overlooked social science perspective.

The report provides a summary of research conducted in 2016 in the peri-urban to urban pig value chain between Mukono District and Kampala in Uganda’s central region. Its focus is the zoonotic parasite Taenia solium, also referred to as the pork tapeworm, and cysticercosis, an infection with the larvae of T. solium. It highlights perceptions of T. solium and other pathogens associated with pigs as articulated by farmers, butchers, slaughterhouse workers, pork consumers and medical professionals.

Download the report, Pigs, people, pathogens: A qualitative analysis of the pig value chain in the central region of Uganda by Rebekah Thompson.

AITVM conference logo 2016

The holistic concept of ‘One World-One Health’ in disease prevention and control will be among the topics of discussion at the first joint international conference of the Association of Institutions for Tropical Veterinary Medicine (AITVM) and the Society of Tropical Veterinary Medicine (STVM) which is scheduled to place on 4-8 September 2016 in Berlin, Germany.

AITVM is a foundation of 24 veterinary faculties and livestock institutes based in Africa, Asia and Europe with the mandate to improve human health and quality of life by means of increased and safe food production in tropical regions through enhancement of research, training and education in veterinary medicine and livestock production within the framework of sustainable development.

STVM is made up of scientists, veterinarians and students from more than 40 countries with common interests in tropical veterinary medicine. It is a non-profit organization whose purpose is the advancement of tropical veterinary medicine, hygiene and related disciplines.

The joint conference will bring together animal health and production experts, senior and junior career researchers and students from all over the world to discuss research and development topics including animal and zoonotic disease control, food safety, genetic resources and biodiversity, rural development and animal production, training and capacity building and animal welfare.

The conference is organized by the Institute for Parasitology and Tropical Veterinary Medicine and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Reference Centre for Veterinary Public Health of the Freie Universität Berlin.

The co-organizing institutions are:

  • the Friedrich-Loeffler Institute – Federal Research Institute for Animal Health
  • the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment
  • the German Veterinary Medical Society
  • Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Germany
  • the Albrecht Daniel Thaer-Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

The conference organizers are now accepting abstracts. The deadline for submission of abstracts is 15 March 2016.

Visit the conference website for more information.

Farming in the highlands of Ethiopia

Farming scene in the highlands of Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI/Apollo Habtamu).


Zoonotic diseases, or zoonoses, are diseases that can be passed from animals to people. Nearly two-thirds of emerging infectious diseases affecting people are zoonotic and about 60% of all human pathogens are zoonotic.

Zoonoses such as brucellosis, anthrax and rabies are endemic in eastern Africa and yet formally published research studies on zoonoses in the region are hard to come by; useful research findings remain tucked away in the libraries of universities and other research institutions in form of working papers and students’ theses: the so-called ‘grey literature’.

In order to bring to the fore the wealth of unpublished research on zoonoses from studies carried out in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, the first-ever regional conference on zoonotic diseases in eastern Africa was held in Naivasha, Kenya on 9-12 March 2015.

The conference brought together academicians, researchers and graduate students from across Africa who presented on topics such as the One Health approach to disease prevention and control, the global health security agenda, the recent Ebola outbreak and its control, and control of rabies in East Africa.

Some 80 oral and poster presentations covered a wide range of aspects of research on zoonotic diseases including epidemiology, antimicrobial resistance, diagnosis, surveillance, outbreak investigations, disease modelling and foodborne zoonoses.

Bernard Bett, a veterinary epidemiologist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), gave a keynote presentation on behalf of the institute’s director general Jimmy Smith detailing how research by ILRI is contributing towards healthy people, animals and ecosystems.

Food insecurity remains a challenge for millions of people in the region. Animal-source foods can play a role in improving food and nutritional security, particularly in developing countries where demand for meat, milk and eggs is on the rise. Thus, food security is linked to the health of the livestock that produce these food products.

However, because of the threat of endemic and emerging zoonotic diseases, human health is influenced by animal health. Furthermore, changing patterns of land use, such as irrigation and intensified farming, can have an impact on the life cycles of vectors that spread diseases that affect both animals and people. Therefore, the impact of agriculture on ecosystem health also needs to be considered when tackling animal and human health challenges.

View the presentation “Healthy people, animals and ecosystems: The role of CGIAR research

The contribution of livestock to human and animal health was among the several topics discussed at a high-profile conference organized by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 6-7 November 2014. The theme of the conference was Livestock-based options for sustainable food and nutritional security, economic well-being and healthy lives.

The conference was the culmination of a series of events organized this year to mark 40 years of livestock research by ILRI and its predecessors, the International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases (ILRAD) and the International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA).

Discussions under the sub-theme of ‘livestock and healthy lives’ began on the morning of the first day of the conference with a featured talk by Lorne Babiuk, vice president for research at the University of Alberta on how healthy animals can improve the health, welfare and economy of people.

Lorne Babiuk, vice-president for research at the University of Alberta

Lorne Babiuk presents a featured talk titled Healthy animals equals healthy, productive people at the ILRI@40 conference held on 6-7 November 2014 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI/Apollo Habtamu).

In his presentation, Babiuk noted that smallholder farmers dominate livestock production in many developing countries and globally, one billion poor people depend on livestock for their livelihoods.

However, despite the potential of smallholder livestock production to contribute to meeting the growing demand for animal protein in the developing world, the livestock sector is beset by several challenges such as emerging diseases and limited natural resources for raising livestock.

Zoonotic diseases, in particular, have impacts on international trade, food prices and human health.

Babiuk then discussed three biotechnology options that can be used to improve livestock production: vaccines, breeding and selection of disease-resistant animals, and marker-assisted management to produce better quality carcasses.

“Vaccination, in my opinion, has been one of the most cost-effective approaches for the management of infectious diseases,” he said.

“In fact, it’s been stated that vaccination has saved more lives than all other therapeutic interventions in the world.”

He also gave examples of how genetics can be used to improve productivity through classical breeding and selection and use of genomic tools.

Babiuk summed up his presentation by stating that increasing food security will become more critical as the world population increases and that “healthy animals equals healthy people equals healthy environment equals stable economic environments”.


Continuing with the underlying theme of Babiuk’s talk, a roundtable discussion was held in the afternoon to examine the relationship between livestock, nutrition and health.

John McDermott, director of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health, moderated the discussion. The panellists were Walter Masiga, the World Organisation for Animal Health sub-regional representative for eastern Africa; Juliana Rwelamira, managing director of Sasakawa Africa Association and Vish Nene, director of ILRI’s livestock vaccines initiative.

Vish Nene, Juliana Rwelamira and Walter Masiga, panelists at ILRI@40 roundtable discussion on livestock and healthy lives

Left to Right: Vish Nene (ILRI), Juliana Rwelamira (Sasakawa Africa Association) and Walter Masiga (World Organisation for Animal Health) take part in a roundtable discussion on livestock and healthy lives at the ILRI@40 Addis Ababa conference (photo credit: ILRI/Apollo Habtamu).

McDermott began with an overview of the controversial and somewhat counterintuitive role of livestock in nutrition.

He noted that while animal-source foods are important sources of nutrition for poor people in low-income countries, there is underconsumption of livestock products by the poor on account of the high price of meat, milk and eggs relative to that of cereals.

On the other hand, overconsumption of livestock products in high-and middle-income countries has led to an increase in cases of obesity and related non-communicable diseases, a trend that is starting to emerge in low-income countries as well.

McDermott also noted that while meat, milk and eggs are good sources of vital nutrients, there are considerable health risks associated with livestock and livestock products.

“The most nutritious foods are also the most risky. You’re not going to get very sick eating rice as compared to eating spoiled milk or meat,” he said.

Intensification of agriculture to increase the supply of livestock is also associated with environmental contamination and increase of microbial populations, he added, noting that three-quarters of emerging diseases are zoonotic.

The roundtable discussion sought to link the economic development agenda of the livestock sector with issues related to health and nutrition.

Among the topics discussed were the One Health approach for more effective control of emerging diseases; vaccines and diagnostics; value chain development to reduce postharvest food losses and improve food safety and nutritional quality; risk-based approaches to food safety in informal markets and strengthening of national control systems to prevent misuse of antibiotics in treatment of animals.

The outcomes of the discussions on livestock and health on the first day of the conference fed into a parallel session on the second day. The aim of the session was to look into the future to identify the key priority areas for research on livestock and health in the next 40 years.

About 20 participants, mostly veterinary practitioners, took part in the parallel session on livestock and healthy lives which began with three scene-setting PowerPoint presentations and one poster presentation by scientists from ILRI’s Food Safety and Zoonoses program:

Following the presentations, the participants split into three groups for an in-depth discussion of the identified priority areas for research on livestock and health in the next 40 years. The discussions were based on their individual experiences, the content of the three presentations and current global trends in animal and human health.

They identified the following three priority areas for research on livestock and health:

  • emerging infectious diseases;
  • vaccines and diagnostics; and
  • antimicrobial residues and resistance.

Research on emerging infectious diseases needs to focus on increased understanding of the drivers of disease, for example, agricultural intensification, climate change, new farming systems, irrigation and increased mobility of animals and people. Research activities could include mapping, modelling and analysis of vectors; vector control through the use of ‘green’ insecticides; biological control of vectors and adoption of the Ecohealth approach to disease prevention and control.

Research on vaccines should be aimed at developing safe, single-dose, affordable ‘combination’ vaccines that are easy to deliver and target multiple pathogens. Rapid diagnostics that can be used along the food chain and are linked into large databases for surveillance can provide early warning systems for quick detection and reporting of potential health hazards and timely intervention.

Research on antibiotic residues and resistance needs to ensure prudent use of antimicrobials for treatment of farm animals to avoid residues in animal-source food products. The transfer of antibiotic resistance from animals to milk, meat and eggs was also identified as an important research area.

Dieter Schillinger

Dieter Schillinger leads a group discussion on antimicrobial residues and resistance as a priority area for research on livestock and healthy lives (photo credit: ILRI/Apollo Habtamu).

The group summed up the vision of ILRI’s livestock-for-health research in the next 40 years as follows:

ILRI research has contributed to appropriate health management systems leading to healthy animals, people and ecosystems and increase animal-source food and income for all’.

Delia Grace

Delia Grace presenting at a side session on ‘Food safety: Options for addressing a growing crisis’ at IFPRI’s 2020 Conference on ‘Building Resilience for Food and Nutrition Security’ (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan)

On 15-17 May 2014, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) held an international conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on building resilience for food and nutrition security, with over 700 participants in attendance including researchers, policymakers and decision-makers.

Scientists from the Food Safety and Zoonoses program of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) were among the many speakers who presented at parallel sessions and side events.

Delia Grace gave a presentation on food safety in informal markets during a side event on Food safety: Options for addressing a growing crisis. She also spoke on dealing with food safety, nutrition, and public health crises during one of the parallel sessions.

Hung Nguyen-Viet spoke on food-borne diseases and public health shocks in East Asia and the Pacific while Bernard Bett presented on managing impacts from infectious disease outbreaks in dryland areas of East Africa.

More ILRI reports from the conference

Visit the conference website for more information and to access more of the conference resources.

ILRI's regional representative for South Asia, Purvi Mehta-Bhatt, receives the 2013 Agriculture Leadership Award at a ceremony held in New Delhi, India

Purvi Mehta-Bhatt receives the 2013 Agriculture Leadership Award from the Governor of Uttar Pradesh, Shri BL Joshi. In the background is Prof MS Swaminathan, the architect of India’s Green Revolution (photo credit: ILRI/Purvi Mehta-Bhatt).

We are pleased to congratulate Purvi Mehta-Bhatt – the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) regional representative for South Asia – for being among 11 recipients of India’s Agriculture Leadership Awards for 2013.

The award was presented at a prestigious ceremony held on 19 September 2013 in New Delhi that was graced by the presence of Prof MS Swaminathan, the architect of India’s Green Revolution.

Mehta-Bhatt received the Woman Leadership Award in recognition of her leadership role in influencing crop and livestock policies in India and for her continued efforts in linking grassroots level issues to national, regional and international research and policy strategies.

Facilitated by Agriculture Today, India’s leading agriculture magazine, these national awards are presented to institutions and individuals for outstanding leadership in agriculture.

In addition to her role as head of ILRI’s research programs in South Asia, Mehta-Bhatt is one of the research activity leaders of One Health and Ecohealth in ILRI’s Food Safety and Zoonoses program.

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