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Foresight review on food safety

Foundation report reveals roadmap for global food safety.

The Foresight review of food safety from the Lloyd’s Register Foundation confirms three core areas of focus for future financial investment: education, traceability and the ocean of food.

After months of extensive research in which more than 100 industry experts from around the world were interviewed during a series of advisory workshops, the Lloyd’s Register Foundation (the Foundation) has now published its findings in its report ‘The Foresight review of food safety’. The report reveals three core areas in which the Foundation will now focus its future efforts and investment:

  1. Education and training in developed and developing countries: an interconnected approach that brings academia, citizens, governments, industry and non-governmental organisations together to act on solutions.
  2. Traceability in the food supply chain and development of a broad range of technologies to connect the steps and make food more traceable and, therefore, safer for consumers.
  3. Delivering an ocean of food: investing in aquaculture and seafood production for greater food safety and sustainability, focusing on improving current practices, and expanding and upscaling for the future.

Experts interviewed include food safety specialists from global food brands Mars, Danone and Barilla, academics from several leading universities, representatives from Lloyd’s Register’s specialist food assurance team and several NGOs. Questions posed to the group centred around food safety challenges and the need for evidence-based approaches to further investigate food safety and actions required to limit this growing global public health risk.

Food Programme Director for the Foundation, Vincent Doumeizel Food Programme Director for the Foundation, Vincent Doumeizel said: “Access to safe food is a human right. Every year 600 million people fall ill after eating contaminated food and 420,000 people die. We must find a way to feed our growing population safely while considering the sustainability of our planet. That’s why this report is so important – it’s a topic that has a huge impact on us all.

“The Foundation is a global charitable organisation which focuses on making the world a safer place and following this report, the Food Programme team will now be looking for opportunities to invest in initiatives and technologies that fall in one or more of the three core areas with the ultimate goal of helping make the safe supply of food a reality.”

Food facts and figuresEducation and training

The experts interviewed agreed that food safety must be incorporated into educational programmes to ensure lasting improvement. This is particularly important in low and middle-income countries most impacted by food diseases and where the current lack of food safety specialists is a critical problem.

“By delivering professional training in the food supply chain, we can improve food safety and traceability. It is critical that knowledge about nutrition, food safety and sustainability continue to be deepened and broadened through education and training. Action is needed through coalitions and partnerships that work together locally and globally,” said Lonneke van der Geest, Food Safety Manager from Wageningen University & Research.

Paris working group for the Lloyd's Register Foundation Foresight review of food safety

Photo: Paris working group for the Foresight review of food safety.

 

 

Traceability to enable a safer food supply chain

The second recommendation centres on traceability which, according to the report, supports sustainable economic growth, poverty reduction, food security and environmental protection while promoting food safety and animal and plant health. Specifically, the Foundation will be looking for opportunities to invest in projects that link physical food stuffs and digital records – or ‘phygital’ solutions.

“The food supply chain is complex and fragmented, which greatly limits traceability. Yet new life science and data science innovations offer real opportunities to address this challenge and deliver noticeable improvements,” comments John Carter, former Vice President, Quality & Food Safety, Danone.

Participants of Paris working group for the Lloyd's Register Foundation Foresight review of food safetyPhoto: Participants of San Diego working group for the Foresight review of food safety.

 

Ocean of food

Aquaculture is the fastest-growing food-producing sector in the world and could meet the global population’s increasing demands for food. However, the findings suggest it is an industry with which too few business and government leaders are familiar. The report states the ‘first requirement is to improve current practices in aquaculture which, like any new industry, encounters severe inefficiencies and safety issues for both operators and production.’

Martin Gill, Head of Aquaculture & Fisheries at Lloyd’s Register says: “Offshore aquaculture offers huge potential but there are issues we need to be aware of, especially due to the harsher environmental factors involved. We need to put in place robust systems and processes to ensure the welfare of the species being farmed is managed properly, there is protection for ecosystems and production is safe and sustainable.”

Participants of San Diego working group for the Lloyd's Register Foundation Foresight review of food safetyPhoto: Participants of San Diego working group for the Foresight review of food safety.

 

Next steps

The Foundation has already made some steps forward in identifying suitable projects in line with its mission. The charity has submitted a proposal to the EU for two pilot projects in food and energy production in connection with the wider EU programme for multi-use of the marine space offshore.

Vincent explains: “The goal is to look at offshore aquaculture in combination with other activities in a multi-use setting or standalone environment – these are under development. There are major challenges to overcome, but the need to produce more food, and reduce the impact of aquaculture on coastal areas, more than justifies these efforts.”

Another project in the pipeline is a food safety education initiative in East Africa and the Caribbean working with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The objective is to build food safety workforce capacity, leading to enhanced food safety, income and livelihood opportunities.

The Lloyd’s Register Safety Accelerator – a challenge-based accelerator programme - is also currently working with project partners in the food industry to look at how we can improve traceability in the supply chain.

Click here to read the full report.

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