New FAO report highlights concerns about future food safety

Earlier this month, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released its publication, Thinking about the future of food safety - A foresight report. The report highlights the potential food safety concerns regarding the major global drivers such as economic growth, changing consumer behavior and consumption patterns, a growing global population, and the climate crisis.  

With the constant development of technology and science, there are various promising opportunities to feed the growing population of the world while aiming to limit impacts on the environment. According to FAO Chief Scientist Ismahane Elouafi, “we are in an era where technological and scientific innovations are revolutionizing the agri-food sector, including the food safety arena. It is important for countries to keep pace with these advances, particularly in a critical area like food safety, and for FAO to provide proactive advice on the application of science and innovation.”  

The report discusses some of the most important trends and issues in food and agriculture, focusing on food safety implications, which consumers around the world are concerned about. The team adopted a foresight approach, which is based on the idea that the outcomes of the future can be seen in the form of early signs from today. Thus, it is important to monitor these signs through the systematic gathering of intelligence in order to prepare better for future opportunities and challenges.  

The various drivers and trends covered in the report include climate change, changing consumer behavior and preferences, new food sources and production systems, technological advances, microbiome, circular economy, and food fraud. The findings emphasize the increased risk of microbiological and chemical contamination regarding new food sources such as jellyfish, algae, and insects, laboratory meats, plant-based alternatives, and new technologies being used in growing and producing food.