Late last month, a coalition of global food and health organizations government agencies, academic institutions, and nonprofit communication experts launched a collaborative initiative to help ensure a collective international resource of food-specific risk communication.
The International Center of Excellence in Food Risk Communication aims to:
Increase the effectiveness of food risk communication, thereby enabling informed decisions about food safety, nutrition, and health;
Convene credible and influential governmental, communications, and health authorities to maximize their individual and collective reach and effectiveness for the public good; and
Contribute to the international body of knowledge on food risk communication.
The Center's website provides resources to help government officials, health professionals, academicians, food producers, journalists, the public, and others communicate concepts, practices, research, and data about food safety, nutrition, and health. The website also includes content from other leading global institutions involved in risk communication.
As the continuing nuclear emergency in Japan has shown us, international cooperation and communication are now vital to help mitigate risks within the global food supply.
In a press release, the ICEFRC points out that to ensure the safety of imported food, some countries including Australia, Hong Kong and the US have banned the import of milk, vegetables and fruit grown in areas near the damaged Japanese nuclear plant because of contamination fears. Others have implemented enhanced import controls on products or are testing imports. Taiwan's Fisheries Agency, for example, has advised local boats not to fish in Japanese waters, and will check all catches and will destroy any with excess radioactivity.
(For more information on the specific risks associated with radioactive exposure from contaminated food see this report from WHO.)
The ICEFRC was founded by several international partner organizations including: Food Standards Australia New Zealand, Health Canada, International Food Information Council Foundation, Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, National Center for Food Protection and Defense and the United States Department of Agriculture.