The European Food Safety Authority has identified research priorities in food safety for the next five to 10 years.
The agency listed its regulatory research priorities under three streams: Safe Food Systems, Innovation in Risk Assessment, and Holistic Risk Assessment out of 10 identified during consultations.
The first section considers the impact on food safety of innovation in food production and such systems. This includes quicker detection of food fraud through improved surveillance, deliver tools to identify vulnerable systems for food production, susceptible to multiple pest and pathogens and better preparedness of threats to food safety, for migrant and indigenous populations.
The second area looks at what impact new knowledge and tools may bring to risk assessment of food safety with current approaches being too resource‐intensive, and raising issues of reproducibility and ethics.
This features integration of molecular data such as genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics in microbiological risk assessment and using standardized and validated analytical and sequencing methodologies and tailored tools to use whole genome sequencing (WGS) analysis for risk assessment.
The final part will focus on understanding the societal context in which science is delivered. Such as benefits of using blockchain technology along the food chain, including for supply chain monitoring and potential prevention of food fraud and ability to use crowdsourcing, operate real‐time monitoring and signal alerts with help of big data analytical platforms to assess effectiveness of interventions.
Selecting research priorities
The topics will inform research agendas such as the next European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) strategy for 2021 to 2027.
By July 2018, 43 research needs were received from scientific committee and panel members and from EFSA’s own staff. They were shared with EFSA’s advisory forum for comments by September 2018.
During EFSA’s scientific conference in September last year, the agency consulted the wider community and received 30 additional contributions. They were grouped into themes and discussed with EFSA stakeholders at a meeting in November 2018.
Research streams and priorities were put to a workshop in January this year led by Directorate General Research and Innovation. One month later, they were endorsed by the scientific committee.
Themes suggested in consultations that did not make the cut included use of meta‐genomics and meta‐transcriptomics in food safety, investigating the role of foodborne infections in mental health, gaining monitoring microbiological data from the private food sector, bacteriophages and foodborne viruses.
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