RIVM’s Collaborating Centre for Risk Assessment of Pathogens in Food and Water was invited to WHO’s side event during the 41st Codex Alimentarius Commission on July 4th 2018. The side event highlighted the importance of national capacity building efforts for conducting foodborne disease burden estimates.

The impact of unsafe food

It remains difficult to answer the events’ main question: How many cases of foodborne diseases are there in your country? The true magnitude and cost of foodborne diseases are often unknown due to cases not being reported, investigated or recognised. In 2015, the first ever WHO estimates of the global burden of foodborne diseases calculated by FERG, were published. These estimates were the result of a decade of work and input from more than 100 experts from around the world, including RIVM who chaired the project. 

National Capacity building

Countries can request WHO to support them in calculating disease burden estimations. RIVM’s  WHO CC Risk Assessment of Food and Pathogens in Water will support WHO in providing capacity building workshops. The burden estimations will allow policy-makers to allocate appropriate resources for food safety control, prevention and intervention. Dr Doctor (Doctor) Joke W. B. van der Giessen represented RIVM at the side event. She gave a presentation on the need for disease burden estimations and provided insight into the country workshops.


Side event panel: Dr Kazuaki Miyagishima, Director of the WHO Food Safety and Zoonoses Department, Joke van der Giessen (RIVM WHO Collaborating Centre), and Dr Lindita Molla of the Institute of Public Health, Health and Environment Department of Albania.

National guidance manual

The side event highlighted the importance of national capacity building efforts for conducting estimates towards the improved evidence-based food safety system. The WHO announced the publication of a national guidance manual together with other tools to help countries to build their capacities in early 2019.