Foreword Vol.2 Nr.1

“Modern factory farming methods could not be carried on without the use of antibiotics.”

“The resistant bacteria can be passed direct from animals to man and secondly, they can be passed on in the food so produced.” These sentences are not from one of the authors of this issue of Affidia. I am quoting Ruth Harrison from 1964. Between 1960 and 1990, there was a sharp increase in global meat consumption. Western countries and Russia both exported the factory farming system, for which antibiotics were essential. Step by step, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) spread throughout different microorganisms, animal hosts, humans, and the environment. Residues from antimicrobial drugs, largely kept under control in western countries, became a serious problem, especially in imported seafood and honey from Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs). Now, High Income Countries (HICs) blame LMICs for insufficient regulation of antibiotics. I do think, along with Claas Kirchhelle, that HICs “have a moral responsibility to contain the fallout of these systems in other parts of the world.” Sustainable animal farming, molecular methods for tracing AMR, and new diagnostic technologies for the screening of residues are what the food chains need.

I think this issue of Affidia provides a small contribution to help the community of food quality and safety managers understand the background of AMR risk. As usual, we have international insights about this topic in the US, Russia, and the EU. In this issue, we start with honey. This gift of nature is for consumers one of the most pure and healthy foods and it has many useful properties. It is also an expensive product. Thus, due to the fact that it is a liquid, it was and is—like wine and olive oil— frequently adulterated. In recent years, antibiotic residues have been found in honey so honey is an important part of this discussion. The horse meat scandal taught us that when there is fraud and when processors or traders operate outside of ethical and regulatory boundaries, chemical contaminants are often a “side-dish” to the main crime.

For some years we have not had a dioxin scandal so I thought this would be a good moment to talk about this risk. I invited experts in this field to help remind us what happened in the past and why, unfortunately, it may happen again.

Last but not least, we have an interesting overview of food pathogens in Europe. This article helps us understand the recent cases of pathogens in the food chain and the growing number of food recalls. Official methods have been updated and whole genome sequencing (WGS) has moved from biotech research and life sciences to food control laboratories. This method gives us new tools to understand links between food born disease cases and we will soon begin using it much more frequently both to safeguard the food supply and to prevent food fraud, as well.

The next issue of Affidia will be monographic. We will explore the natural toxins that can contaminate food and feedstuffs, from plant alkaloids to aflatoxins. We are all aware of the risk of these contaminants and we will consider the hidden risks, whether or not regulations are appropriate, how food processors are coping with the issue, and what new analytical methods can offer us in order to monitor these risks in a cost-effective way.

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