An International Approach to Food Safety
In the aftermath of the 2013 horsemeat scandal in Europe, investigators found that there have been very few prosecutions over time for food fraud. Chief investigator Chris Elliott, director of food safety and microbiology at Queens University in Belfast, Ireland, went so far as to say that there continues to be a “huge incentive for the criminal to pursue food crime.” Globalization, it seems, has its seamier side.
To turn the tide against unsafe food and food fraud, the EU is doing more than just enforcement. Member states recently agreed to launch four global initiatives to address the nagging issues of hunger, malnutrition, education, and the lack of proper agricultural funding in some 45 countries around the world in an effort to confront the root causes of dangerous food and fraud.
Meanwhile, the UN and Global Food Safety Initiative also recently agreed to actively collaborate on building “a roadmap for scaling up” food safety and agricultural programs for local food enterprises in a number of key regions in the global food supply network, including China, Southeast Asia, and Africa.
The Power of Science
When all is said and done, food safety is about effective risk management. Yes, the task is daunting. Even the simplest of today’s food products often contain dozens of ingredients sourced from around the world. Nations, companies, and importers all along the global food supply chain are increasingly turning to science for answers in detecting risks to human and animal health. For example, PerkinElmer’s Perten and Delta Instruments solutions focus specifically on the agricultural and dairy industries. And PerkinElmer’s NexION 350 Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer, Spectrum Two Mid Infrared Spectrometer, and Altus Liquid Chromatography system are additional examples of solutions that can help identify known and unknown ingredients and adulterants so that scientists, food suppliers, and the global farming community can rapidly and easily detect toxins, heavy metals, and pesticides in the things we eat and drink every day.
Dr. Packer is senior manager of food safety for PerkinElmer. Reach him at email@example.com