Terrorist Threats to Food - Guidelines for Establishing and Strengthening Prevention and Response Systems
Revised version - May 2008
ISBN: 92 4 154584 4
In May 2002, the Fifty-fifth World Health Assembly adopted resolution WHA 55.16 which expressed serious concern about threats against civilian populations by deliberate use of biological and chemical agents or radionuclear materials. It noted that such agents can be disseminated via food and requested the Director-General to provide tools and support to Member States, particularly developing countries, in strengthening their national systems. It also requested WHO to continue to issue international guidance and technical information on recommended public health measures to deal with deliberate use of biological and chemical agents or radionuclear materials to cause harm.
In December 2002, WHO published Terrorist Threats to Food, which was intended primarily for policy-makers in national governments with responsibilities for ensuring food safety, and was designed to assist them in incorporating considerations of food terrorism into existing food safety systems. The document received favourable comments from governments, the food industry and consumers and has been one of the most requested WHO documents in the field of food safety.
In June 2007, the revised International Health Regulations (2005) entered into force across the globe for WHO Member States. The revised Regulations have dramatically changed the way that key public health events of international significance are handled by the international community. As a consequence, this guidance has been updated and expanded, especially to inform responsible authorities in WHO Member States of their new obligations concerning foodborne disease under the revised Regulations. Certain incidents, potentially involving deliberate contamination of food, may be considered of international significance and subject to these Regulations. The WHO International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) functions within the framework of the IHR (2005) and is utilized to manage food safety events, as appropriate.
This publication is the first to be issued by the WHO Department of Food Safety and Zoonoses since its incorporation into the new WHO Cluster on Health Security and Environment, which includes the primary responsibility for managing emerging international threats to public health. The World Health Report 2007 A Safer Future emphasized that the new watchwords are diplomacy, cooperation, transparency and preparedness. In order to ensure global public health security in the 21st Century, WHO urges all stakeholders to consider implementation of the relevant sections of these guidelines as a matter of prudent public health policy.