How ISO standards help us get the right balance on World Food Day

At least one in three children under five are either underweight or overweight, according to a newly published report by Unicef. ISO International Standards provide the right ingredients to help.

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Por Clare Naden
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The world is suffering from a nutrition crisis. More than 800 million people in the world are hungry, yet nearly the same number are obese. At the same time, at least half of all children under five suffer from vitamin deficiencies and child obesity continues to rise.

Globalization, urbanization, climate change and political conflict have all contributed to a situation where billions of people suffer from malnutrition in many forms. World Food Day, celebrated annually on 16 October, seeks to change that by promoting global awareness and action to ensure healthy diets for everyone in a zero-hunger world.

“Healthy Diets for a #ZeroHunger World” is the theme of this year’s World Food Day.

ISO has over 1 600 standards for the food production sector that work to improve agricultural methods and distribution and promote sustainable production, while also enhancing food safety and nutrition. What’s more, they contribute directly to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2, which aims to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture” by 2030.

The ISO 22000 family of standards on food safety management helps organizations identify and control food safety hazards, ensuring confidence in the food production sector. ISO also has a number of standards aimed at sustainable and responsible production methods, such as ISO 26000 for social responsibility and ISO 20400 for sustainable procurement. These encourage ethical working conditions and promote ethical purchasing practices throughout the entire food production chain.

A mother and daughter take in the perfume of fresh strawberries at a local market.

Currently in development, technical specification ISO/TS 26030 – a food-sector application of ISO 26000 – will also play a significant role in contributing to zero hunger and better nutrition worldwide. By offering clear guidance on how to integrate the core issues of social responsibility into the food chain, it will encourage all businesses to operate ethically and sustainably.

ISO also has many other standards and guidance documents in specific sectors. For example, the recently published ISO 34101 series on sustainable and traceable cocoa provides a set of guidelines for environmentally sound agricultural practices, better traceability of cocoa beans and improved working conditions for all those involved in the cocoa supply chain.

Another example is the International Workshop Agreement IWA 29, Professional farmer organization – Guidelines, which aims to build the professionalism of smallholder farmer organizations in emerging markets, enabling them to enter the global marketplace.

To learn more about how ISO International Standards can help feed the world, see our dedicated page on

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