This month, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) disclosed that it now has a new scanning tool that can identify the entire DNA content of a food.
It is now possible to scan the entire DNA content of a food without any prior knowledge or suspicion of what may or may not be present in that food
A statement released by FSAI says that The analytical scanner tool can “proactively identify all the ingredients and their biological sources in a food.” Now, Irish food regulators believe they can thwart instances of food fraud and easily identify foods that have been improperly labeled.
The way the tool works is that it compares actual ingredients in a food–ingredients identified by their DNA profile–versus the ingredients that are displayed on the label. The relatively new DNA sequencing technology is known as next-generation sequencing.
EFSA has already developed some approaches for assessing combined exposure to multiple pesticides and contaminants in humans and multiple pesticides in bees. Our scientists are developing new approaches and tools for harmonising how we assess risks to humans and the environment from multiple chemicals in the food chain: “chemical mixtures” and their “cocktail effects”.
January 2019 EFSA’s Scientific Committee addressed how to assess the genotoxicity of substances in chemical mixtures. Genotoxicity refers to a chemical’s ability to harm DNA. Our top scientific experts explain how to deal with mixtures containing known genotoxic substances, and also what to do when “unidentified” substances present in mixtures need assessing for genotoxicity.
This work complements EFSA’s guidance on genotoxicity testing strategies from 2011 and also the broader guidance on assessing combined exposure to multiple chemicals, which is called “MixTox”. The draft MixTox guidance underwent a public consultation in 2018 and following up on the high volume of comments we received has put back publication to early-mid 2019. The statement on genotoxicity of mixtures was also subject to public consultation in 2018.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 815 million people in the world go to bed hungry while 1.9 billion people are overweight1). Yet achieving a world with zero hunger by 2030 is not only possible, it is the theme of this year’s FAO World Food Day, celebrated annually on 16 October.
ISO has more than 1 600 International Standards for the food production sector that directly help to end world hunger by creating confidence in food products, improving agricultural methods and promoting sustainable and ethical purchasing.
These include nearly 850 standards from one of ISO’s most established technical committees, ISO/TC 34, Food products, that encompass everything from animal welfare to food products, such as cereals and milk, and ingredients testing. It is also responsible for the recently updated ISO 22000 series on food safety management that covers standards related to food manufacturing, farming, packaging, catering and animal foodstuffs and feed production.
For many of the people with whom I’ve conversed, the mere mention of the word “sanitation” conjures up images of garbage trucks, mop buckets, janitors, the lack of clean water, and toilets. The general public has little knowledge of sanitation as an operation or a field of work, and its deeply intertwined relationship with the food we eat every day.
Sanitation is in fact the most important function that will happen in every single factory, packinghouse, deli, or restaurant every single day. It is the one safeguard between food and contaminants. Sanitation, then, is the entire set of activities, operations, and products used to produce food hygienically.
Similarly, there is an overwhelming impression that using a sanitizer is all that’s needed to eliminate health risks. This, moreover, is a fallacy shared by more than the general public. Even some workers in the food industry have misconceptions about the purpose, proper use, and appropriateness of sanitizers.
Let’s clear up some of these misunderstandings, shall we?
Thanks to innovative food solutions – such as substituting common proteins used in dairy and confectionery with potato starch solutions – food manufacturers can make cheaper, healthier and less controversial products.
With its production sites and headquarters in Denmark, KMC has grown from being a provider of potato starch and potato flakes to a company that also supplies special ingredients to customers around the world. As a result, KMC has enjoyed successful growth and, as the company’s Quality Manager, Marianne Dam says ISO 22000 plays an important role – indeed an essential one – in its future expansion.
ISOfocus: What does your company see as the main benefit of having food management systems in place such as ISO 22000?
Marianne Dam: KMC is an ingredients company and we deliver products to the global food market. We are dependent on having a reliable food management system in place – first of all, because of our responsibility to our customers (typically B2B) when food safety issues arise and, ultimately, because we owe it to our global end users. Our management system helps us to be safe, focused and efficient in our production set-up.
There are clear benefits to having a Food Management System certified by a third party. These certificates are the first valid evidence of the systems implemented in our company and many of our customers use them as an important part of their supplier approval process. We believe we could not manage our existing business without such recognition.
Some of the specialists involved in the revision of ISO 22000 explain why the new version of the standard is a timely response, for humans and animals, to the growing global challenges to food safety.
Technology has transformed our lives – from how we live to what we eat. Indeed, technology has transformed global food production, lifting people around the world out of poverty and starvation. That is the good news.
The not so good news is that the use of fertilisers, agrochemicals and sophisticated irrigation techniques has resulted in a growing dependence globally on high-yielding crops, such as wheat, maize and rice, leaving us vulnerable to any failure in their supply chains.
More than seven billion people rely on these crops and with the United Nations projecting that figure to reach 9.8 billion in 2050, the pressure on our food systems will also grow. According to Prof. Sayed Azam-Ali, CEO of Crops for the Future, demand for food and animal feed is set to at least double over the next three decades. As we go deeper into the era of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution, we will need to leverage its new technologies – such as drones, artificial intelligence, robotics – to feed the world in a sustainable and affordable way and protect the planet’s natural resources.