EU and FAO join forces to take action on food waste and antimicrobial resistance

Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis and the Director-General of Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) José Graziano da Silva, today agreed to ramp up collaboration between the two organisations in tackling the problems of waste in food supply chains and antimicrobial resistance. In a letter of intent signed recently, the FAO and the EU pledge to work closely together to halve per capita food waste by 2030, a goal established under the new Sustainable Development Goals global agenda. It also commits them to intensified cooperation on tackling the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) on farms and in food systems. Noting that food loss and waste is linked to many aspects of sustainable development, Graziano da Silva cited the importance of strong partnerships like that between the FAO and the EU in addressing the problem. Globally, one-third of all food produce for human consumption – 1.3 billion tonnes – is lost or wasted, each year, causing massive financial losses while squandering natural resources. In Europe alone, around 88 million tonnes of food are wasted each year, with associated costs estimated at €143 billion, according to EU estimates. Meanwhile, the increased use – and abuse – of antimicrobial medicines in both human and animal healthcare has contributed to an increase in the number of disease-causing microbes that are resistant to antimicrobial medicines used to treat them, like antibiotics. This makes AMR a growing threat that could lead to as many as 10 million deaths a year and over €85 million in losses to the global economy by 2050, according to some studies. And in addition to public health risks, AMR has implications for food safety as walls as the economic wellbeing of millions of farming households across the globe. FAO is leading an international effort to improve global measurement of food loss and waste, including the publication of an Annual Global Food Loss Index; the European Commission is also working to develop a methodology for measuring food waste as part of its “Action Plan for the Circular Economy”. FAO is already an active member of the EU’s Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste. In June, the EU Commission adopted a new EU Action Plan on AMR, underpinned by a One Health Approach and fully in line with the WHO Global Action Plan on AMR and the FAO Action Plan on AMR 2016-2020, which focuses specifically tackling the problem within food chains.