Long-awaited checks on imports from Europe by the United Kingdom and World Food Safety Day are among the highlights for the coming year.

2024 marks 45 years since the launch of the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) and five years since the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) was founded.

It is also a decade on from when the EU Food Information Regulations and new rules on allergen labeling began to apply. Since then, we had Natasha’s Law in 2021 and at a meeting in December, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) backed calls for Owen’s Law, meaning written allergy information may soon be compulsory in restaurants and coffee shops.

At the bottom of this article is a selection of events, outside the United States and Canada, in date order to help fill your calendar.

UK import rules and border checks
After a number of delays, post-Brexit checks on imports from the European Union are set to come into force. Beginning Jan. 31, food and drink from the EU will be categorized into high, medium and low risk categories under the Border Target Operating Model (BTOM).  

This date marks the introduction of health certification on imports of medium risk animal products, plants, plant products and high risk food of non-animal origin from the EU. Document and risk-based identity and physical checks on such products will start at the end of April.

The Retained EU Law (REUL) Bill also caused a lot of worry but removal of the so-called sunset clause provided clarity for food businesses on any changes to the regulations. The Bill ends the special status of retained EU law in the UK statute book and will enable such law to be more easily amended, revoked, and replaced.

The legal side
Strauss Group is scheduled to begin a mediation process this month as part of a Salmonella chocolate incident and recall in 2022. In September 2023, the Jerusalem District Court ruled that four of seven motions for class certification would be struck out, and the three others combined to be heard jointly, on the basis of one pleading that had already been filed.

Tayto Group is set to face trial in late 2024 in relation to a Salmonella pork scratching outbreak in the UK in 2021. There were up to 534 people sick with the first patient in September 2020. It was said to be the largest outbreak of Salmonella infantis ever reported in Europe. 

We haven’t heard anything more so presume Ferrero is still being investigated by the Luxembourg public prosecutor’s office for the Salmonella in chocolate outbreak that sickened more than 450 people, and proceedings are ongoing against Nestlé in France because of an E. coli outbreak associated with frozen pizza in 2022 that included 59 patients and two deaths. Nestlé France agreed a compensation package for some people affected in the outbreak.

While there were developments in civil cases involving Backer in Brazil and Magrudis in Spain, criminal cases are ongoing. A trial in Austria involving Käserei Gloggnitz will also continue in 2024. The dairy was linked to a multi-year Listeria outbreak with 10 patients and three deaths.

The Tiger Brands Enterprise polony Listeria outbreak in South Africa with 1,065 cases and 218 deaths was in 2017 and 2018 but we have yet to get to the first stage of trial. Here’s hoping 2024 will see that happen and the class action can move forward.

World Food Safety Day

On June 7, World Food Safety Day, promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), will be marked for the sixth time. There were more than 500 events in 139 countries, according to a report on the 2023 edition.

We are also edging closer to the release of updated foodborne illness estimates which are planned for 2025. WHO’s Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group (FERG) published the often-quoted 600 million illnesses and 420,000 deaths statistics in 2015 based on 2010 data.

Revised Listeria rules in Europe?
There have been whispers that the European Commission is looking at changing Listeria rules in regulation 2073/2005 with challenge testing or moving away from the 100 colony forming units per gram (CFU/g) stance to either a lower or a zero tolerance/not detected in 25-gram approach. The Chilled Food Association has been leading the way ahead of an expected consultation. 

There were several events in 2023 that touched on Listeria, organized by the Society of Food Hygiene and Technology, Royal Society for Public Health and Teagasc’s Symposium on Listeria monocytogenes in food. In September 2024, the Quadram Institute will host the International Symposium on Problems of Listeria and Listeriosis (ISOPOL), so we may well know more by then.

2024 events:

BRC Connect Europe Feb 7-8 in Warwick

GFSI Conference April 8-11 in Singapore

IAFP EU Symposium April 30-May 2 in Geneva

Turkish Food Safety Congress May 9-10 in Istanbul

International Congress on Toxoplasmosis May 26-30 in Berlin

International Symposium on Food Safety and Control May 27-31 in Vienna

Food Safety Summit SA June 4-5

Food Safety Kongress June 4-5 Berlin

Proactive Food Safety Conference June 6 in London

Food Safety Innovation Conference June 14 in Lincoln

Food Sure Summit June 20-21 in Madrid

Food Micro July 8-11 in Burgos

CIEH Food Safety Conference July 9-10

World One Health Congress Sept. 20-23 in Cape Town

EHEDG World Congress Oct. 2-3 in Nantes

International Workshop on Campylobacter, Helicobacter + Related Organisms October in Perth

China International Food Safety and Quality Conference Oct. 30-31 in Shanghai

Recent Advances in Food Analysis (RAFA) Nov. 5-8 in Prague

IAFP’s Latin American Symposium Nov. 11 to 14 in Sau Paulo

ESCAIDE Nov 20-22 in Stockholm

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)