Safety - industry driver

Food safety is always a priority. Current needs are centered around the traditional areas of contamination prevention, formulation, shelf-life and processing. New requirements now encompass more virology, as well as the impact of changing consumer preference and the drive to produce a more sustainable product.

Explore the latest industry Safety needs below. You may also be interested in viewing our current research projects.

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Safety by popularity graph

Fundamental needs

  • Predicting and mitigating the risk of contamination at any point in the food supply chain. Tools such as HACCP, TACCP and VACCP are useful, however emerging contamination risks need to be addressed. A pervasive food safety culture is also needed throughout the industry. There is also a need for accurate risk assessments of novel technologies and processing methods. Improvements in traceability systems are also required to allow the impact of any lapses in vigilance to be reduced.
  • Allergen testing is becoming more sensitive. There are needs for validation of the test methods used, as well as clear, evidence-based guidance on the acceptable quantified limits for identified allergens. There is also a need for standard allergen labelling to reduce ambiguity of interpretation. How much risk does a 'may contain' statement represent?
  • Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to human health. There is a need for guidance for food producers on the strategies that can be used to reduce its emergence and to prevent its spread.
  • Guidance is required in the following safety-related areas: Sampling frequency of ingredients; Procurement strategies; Labelling, and the impact of mis-labelling; The impact of climate change; Interpretation of test results; Safety implications of novel foods and packaging; Consumer engagement to create better food safety culture; Remote auditing.
  • Food production and processing will always demand improvement in hygienic design of equipment and facilities. Improvements to cleaning practices and materials will also be needed.
  • Reductions in fat, salt, sugar and preservatives are being carried out by the industry. The impact of these reductions on safety needs to be clearly defined.
  • Novel ingredients and packaging are being driven by dietary changes (e.g. increased adoption of Vegan diets) and a desire to improve sustainability. These changes to product and package will impact food safety. There is a need to accurately assess the risk.
  • Faster and more accurate detection of contaminants (e.g. pathogens, foreign bodies, chemicals) is always needed. These methods must be properly validated according to international standards, and acceptable limits for contaminants must be agreed on.

Emerging needs

  • Allergen control is a priority for the food industry. Recently, conversations on allergens have discussed: The Celia Marsh court case; the impact of complex supply chains on allergen control; Low-level out of specification results; Meat as a potential allergen; the possibility of hypersensitivities to plant-based products as unfamiliar ingredients are used; and validation of allergen control measures.
  • Salmonella outbreaks in 2022 have focussed attention on this pathogen. There is a need to ensure that lessons from these outbreaks are applied across the industry. There is also a need to challenge Salmonella specifications for processed raw poultry.
  • Food safety culture is an important tool to help the industry maintain food safety standards. There is a need to encourage all staff to work safely, and particular attention needs to be focussed on seasonal and temporary staff to adopt safety culture swiftly.
  • Alternative preservative compounds are continually developed. There is a need to objectively assess the efficacy of these compounds and mixtures before they are used in food production.
  • Plant-based products are increasing their market share. Recent conversations have explored the microbiological safety of these products, particularly if they are sold as 'ready to eat'. There is a need to explore the microbiological safety of these products and set specifications and criteria appropriately.
  • Effective cleaning is the cornerstone of good factory hygiene. Recent discussions described the need for efficient cleaning in dry environments and the need to improve supply of disinfectant chemicals in factories.
  • Food factories are always striving to limit cross contamination of products due to the potential for the allergens, undesirable substances or microorganisms to be present in a product. Routine testing of products to confirm safe production is done frequently. For some contaminants, there is a need to carefully assess the limit of detection for the contaminant and assess it against the known dangerous level to avoid unnecessary rejection of products.
  • Supply chain pressure presents fraudsters with an incentive to pass off cheap and potentially dangerous substitutes as genuine foodstuffs. There is a need to stop these criminals, and to test products for any substitution.
  • Recent outbreaks of Hepatitis A have re-affirmed the need for good hygienic practice during harvest and in produce handling facilities.

The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of Campden BRI but are a summary of industrial feedback obtained from Campden BRI’s Member Interest Groups and interactions with government bodies and wider industry.

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