The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has asked for input on a potential event covering what the food safety system needs to look like by 2030. The agency wants to bring together academicians, regulators and other stakeholders to help identify and define what food safety research and other investments are required to underpin a safe food supply.
It asked for feedback in the form of a survey, which can be completed until Jan. 15, 2019, so it can structure the future event appropriately.
The agenda for the gathering would center on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Europe’s Food2030 initiative, and the proposed U.N. Centre for Food Security voluntary guidelines on food systems and nutrition.
FSAI identified climate change, globalization, traceability and consumer trends as key drivers to why investment is needed in food safety science. Understanding the impact of climate change on food safety is key and strategically investing in food safety science needs serious consideration, according to a briefing document.
Chemical and biological safety of food is a field subject to a myriad of influences that can be global in scope, but often are highly localized, dependent upon changes in regional food production practices, legislation, and microclimates.
FSAI said increased globalization and free movement of food requires regulatory authorities to be vigilant.
“The growing globalization of food manufactured, distributed and marketed across borders results in an increased risk of food incidents. It also requires robust food traceability systems to track back on potential risks and their eliminations when food incidents occur,” according to the briefing document.
“Food pathogens don’t respect borders and thus every element of the food chain from farmer, manufacturer, distributor through to retailer need to ensure that not only do they abide by the law in how they source goods, but they must be satisfied that they are dealing with reputable suppliers and produce food to the highest quality standards to ensure it poses no health risk to consumers.”
FSAI also said regulators must base risk management actions on sound science that is clear and acceptable to all stakeholders with robustness of the evidence base requiring higher levels of investment.
The agency said supply chains are getting longer and more complex despite a move toward shorter supply chains and locally sourced foods so robust accessible traceability systems are needed to get products back quickly.
“Companies are sourcing ingredients from multiple countries and manufacturing products in one country and then distributing those products nationally, regionally, and internationally. In a food safety incident or crisis, it is critical that those who are responsible for protecting public health can recall or withdraw products from the market very quickly to ensure consumers do not get sick or even worse die as a result of consuming contaminated foods,” according to the briefing document.
“Understanding the supply chains and how the safety of those supply chains may be compromised is critical to regulators so that proportionate risk management decisions can be taken and that these decisions are based on robust risk assessment.”
FSAI said consumers rely on regulatory authorities and governments to protect them. They expect the food they eat is safe and will sometimes knowingly expose themselves to foods which are riskier than others.
“It is the role of national food authorities to ensure that consumers have access to accurate and timely information about their food so that they can make informed choices,” according to the briefing document.
“Communicating food safety risks is challenging and as we have seen from food incidents in the past…there is also a need to invest in the science on risk communication to ensure the risk assessments and risk management decisions provide assurances to consumers where appropriate or indeed communicate that a certain food poses them risks.”
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