Developing a Research Agenda for Existing and Emerging Food Safety Risks
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Developing a Research Agenda for Existing and Emerging Food Safety Risks Dr Helen Kendall , Dr Gulbanu Kaptan, Dr Carmen Hubbard, Professor Lynn Frewer. Food and Society Group Centre for Rural Economy School of Agriculture Food and Rural Development Email: [email protected]

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Developing a Research Agenda for Existing and Emerging Food Safety RisksDr Helen Kendall, Dr Gulbanu Kaptan,Dr Carmen Hubbard, Professor Lynn Frewer

Food and Society Group

Centre for Rural Economy

School of Agriculture Food and Rural Development

Email: [email protected]


  • Collab4Safety

    • Aims of WP1: Global mapping of food safety

  • The importance of ensuring global food safety

  • Conclusions of the ‘Go-Global’ project

  • The Delphi technique

  • Application of Delphi to Collab4Safety

Emerging Themes in Food Security

Food Security has been defined as the situation:

“when all people, at all-time have physical and economic access to sufficient and safe nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active healthy life” (FAO,1996).


  • WP1 Aims: to map international research, innovation and training activities and policies in the area of food safety, and to identify gaps in knowledge salient to policy development:

    • Duplication of effort and lack of harmonisation regarding existing research practices,

    • Gaps in international research and training needs, (including capacity building and infrastructure requirements),

    • Critical success factors and identification of barriers to effective policy translation

    • Identification of emerging issues which have regulatory and legal implications, and the consequences

Collab4Safety: WP1 Methods

  • Delphi methodology

    • used to ensure the involvement of global experts

  • Builds on work conducted in the Go-Global project

    • that focused on developing a research agenda for food safety risks.

  • Stage 1 = Scoping workshop issues to be explored in the Delphi including:

    • Issues driving the control and mitigation of emerging food risks

    • Knowledge gaps with respects to existing and emerging risks and developing policy frameworks

Defining Existing and Emerging Risk

  • Emerging food safety risk can be defined as:

    ‘unanticipated risks that occur accidently or naturally as well as those arising from deliberate fraud or acts of malevolence…Emerging food risks are not necessarily new risks, some have always represented a threat, but only recently been identified’ (Wentholtet al, 2010, p.1732)

Getting Food Safety Mitigation Wrong has Profound Consequences…

  • Economic costs

  • E coli outbreak killing 16 people (May 2011)

  • German authorities blame Spanish Cucumbers

  • Germany later admits that Spanish cucumbers are notto blame

    ‘Source of outbreak… remains a mystery as row spreads across Europe and Spain counts the cost of ban on its vegetables’ (The Guardian, 31st May 2011)

Consumer Trust

  • Emotional consumer responses

  • Meat from a cloned cow enters the UK food Chain (FSA, 2010)

  • 2 bulls from the embryo of a cow cloned in the USA is bought by a farmer in Nairn in the highlands, and meat from one is sold to consumers.

Steve Innes, Newmeadow farmer, says: "We acted in good faith”.

(BBC News, 4th August 2010)

‘Horsegate’- Not a food Safety Risk?

  • Horse and Pig DNA detected in products sold as ‘beef’ (January, 2013)

‘Horsegate’- The Issues

  • Fraud and Standards

  • Beef supply chain (post BSE) expected to be tightly controlled

  • Public concern:

    • Criminal activity

    • Illegal economic gain

    • Not focused on food safety (the issue of Bute?)

Environmental Consequences

  • Dioxins are persistent environmental contaminants

  • Dioxins accumulate in the food chain (90% of human exposure through food)

  • Recent dioxin related food safety issues include:

    • Belgium poultry feed supply chain caused by illegally disposed industrial oil (1999)

    • Ireland pig feed supply chain (2008)

Go-Global Conclusions

  • Political will to engage in emerging food risk identification and management

    • may be problematic

  • Need to keep the issue on international and national research agendas

    • Achieved through effective stakeholder engagement

  • The effective sharing of data pertinent to emerging food risks across expert communities needs to be supported

    • Perhaps through intervention of intergovernmental organisations and …

  • Joined up global policy

Existing and Emerging Threats To Food Safety

  • Food chain contamination:

    • Microbial contamination (e.g. salmonella, E coli)

    • Veterinary drug residues (Bute?)

    • Antibiotic resistance?

    • Heavy metals and chemicals

      • Methyl mercury in fish

      • Sudan dyes

    • Unintended presence of nanoparticles

    • Unintended presence of GMOs

    • Unintended inclusion of toxic ingredients (e.g. Japanese Star Anise)

Existing and Emerging Threats To Food Safety (2)

  • Food chain contamination:

    • Dioxins

    • Secondary metabolites

      • Mycotoxins

      • Infectious animal diseases

Go-Global: Global Threats to Food Safety

  • Most frequently identified global threats:

    • Microbiological

    • Chemical

    • Globalisation

    • Control and regulation

    • Mycotoxins

    • Crime and fraud

    • Technology (e,g. Nanoparticles)

      • Note that technology is also seen as a solution to mitigate food safety problems…

Go-Global Conclusions

  • Capacity and capability building regarding emerging food riskidentification and management needsto be included in development agendas for donor countries and institutions.

  • Deviations from global rules may be acceptable for products destined for local use

    • e.g. via a tiered systems of approval for local compared to global use of food products.

  • A formal framework for dealing with national/regional exceptionsto global rules needs to be developed.

  • However, Go-Global Stopped short of gap in evidence identification and identification of policy requirements

Drivers of Food Safety Risk

Emerging Food Risk: Driver – Hazard

  • The Global Recession:

    • Increase in food fraud?

    • Domestic storage (foods used longer)

    • Conflicts between sustainable use and safe use?

    • Emerging technologies

      • Conflict between societal concerns and technical assessments?

Risk identification for Existing Safety Risks

  • Infosan (WHO)

    • The international Food Safety Authorities Network

  • RASFF (EU)

    • Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed


    • Global Information Early Warning System

      How effective are these combined systems?

      Where are gaps identifiable?

      Are there associated capacity building needs?

Example Driver: Food Fraud

Emerging research needs:

  • Understanding the motivations of fraud and identification of vulnerable links in the food chain:

    • Temporal variation

    • Regulatory variation

    • Geographical variation

    • Variation in economic motivation (is it worth it..)

  • Developing predictive models to detect fraud

  • A database of methods, spectral data and a RASSFs like notification system of detected fraud

  • A risk based sampling system

  • New technologies for detection and identification of adulteration, substitution and geographic origin of foods

Example Driver: Food Fraud

Capacity Building:

  • Training in detection and prevention methods

  • Training in risk identification and development of sampling strategies

    Evidence needed for policy development:

  • Estimates of its extent and effect

  • National/ EU/ International policy based on risk assessment, management and communication

    National/International policy gaps:

  • It is a sensitive subject therefore investigation fraught with difficulty.

  • Very little harmonization of (international) approaches to deal with food fraud

  • Need for a global analysis

Collab4Safety: Delphi

  • The Collab4Safety Delphi is particularly interested in:

    • Duplication of effort and lack of harmonisation regarding existing research practices

    • Gaps in international research and training needs, including capacity building and infrastructure requirements

    • Critical success factors and identification of barriers pertinent to effective policy translation.

    • Identification of emerging food safety issues which have regulatory and legal implications, as well as the consequences of such regulations for policy development.

Delphi: A Foresight Activity

  • A foresight activity that is aimed at:

    “development of international consensus regarding risk identification, risk assessment and risk management activities with respect to emerging food safety risks”

Defining Delphi:

  • A procedure to:

    “obtain the most reliable consensus of opinion of a group of experts … by a series of intensive questionnaires interspersed with controlled opinion feedback”

(Dalkey & Helmer, 1963, p.458)

Delphi Methodology

  • Internet-based survey, with several ‘rounds’

    • Including feedback of participants’ views

    • Anonymous responses

  • Advantages:

    • Allows inclusion of many geographically dispersed experts

    • Pre-empts difficulties with group meetings

      • Unequal contributions of members

      • Unstructured data collection

(Rowe & Wright, 1999)

Applying Delphi to Collab4Safety

  • First round:

    • “flag up” important issues for follow up

  • Second round:

    • Focus on specific and highly relevant issues

    • Quantify differences in opinion

    • Provide feedback on the views of other participants, particularly for issues where consensus has not occurred

    • Identify directions for the future

Applying Delphi to Collab4Safety (2)

  • Data base – approximately 1000 experts internationally….

  • R1: 500 experts approached re: inclusion

  • Selection criteria:

    • Expertise

    • Country/Region

    • Organisational background

  • Survey administered online (word version also available)


  • The Delphi survey was translated into the following languages:

    • English

    • Chinese

    • Russian

    • Portuguese

    • French

    • Dutch

R1: Focus

  • Existingand emerging food risks

  • Existing and emerging policy requirements

  • Research needs and gaps in existing policy frameworks and infrastructure

  • Capability and capacity building

  • Assess expert uncertainties in relation to drivers and their impacts

R1: Overview of Response

  • Data collected December 2013-January 2014

  • n= 106 surveys with usable data

    • 52 countries represented

    • All continents represented

  • Expert average age between 36-45

    • Male: 70%

    • Female: 30%

    • EU Citizen: 43.4%

Thank you for Listening!

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