Industry News | February 5, 2010

What Will Food Safety Look Like in 2020?

Researchers announced at a workshop during the 2010 Global Food Safety Conference in Washington, D.C., that biological risks will be the No. 1 food safety issue in 2020.

The workshop, titled “Emerging Issues in Food Safety—Where will we be in 2020?,” announced the results of a study sponsored by food safety and hygiene solutions provider JohnsonDiversey Inc.

“I think we all agree here that there is a need to look at the future; to be proactive versus reactive,” said Serban Teodoresco, president of Preventa Inc. and consultant for JohnsonDiversey, during the workshop, which he moderated.

“Looking in the future is the first element to become proactive.”

Teodoresco said that a number of drivers factor into the state of food safety in 2020, including the environment, technology, regulations, consumers, industry associations, and the political and economical environment.

The JohnsonDiversey study surveyed upper-level employees across a variety of industries, including foodservice, manufacturing, retail, and others.

Rounding out the top three food safety issues predicted for 2020, behind “biological risks/microbial safety,” were “supply chain” and “contaminants/chemical & physical.”

According to the research, 32 percent of respondents believe food safety problems are most likely to occur at food processing/manufacturing facilities, and 32 percent believe the problems will most likely occur on farms.

Some 14 percent believe food safety issues in 2020 will most likely occur at foodservice operations.

Robert Gravani, professor of food science at Cornell University, said during the presentation that all food organizations should build a culture of food safety, and that management of the supply chain is key to doing so.

“We need to build partnerships—not just relationships, but true partnerships with our supplier to truly understand where those ingredients, where those finished products are originating and to make sure that they’re appropriate in terms of food safety situation,” he said.

Ed Lonergan, president and CEO of JohnsonDiversey, said that food safety and sustainability will be more integrated in 2020.

“When people say, ‘Can food safety and sustainability go together?,’ they have to,” he said. “They have to because the resources we use are scarce and we’re going to find ways to use less of them in our process.”

Fifty-three percent of survey respondents agreed that food safety will become integral to sustainability in the next 10 years.

Though predicting the state of anything 10 years out is difficult to do, Gravani said during the workshop that it’s never too late to examine the future state of food safety.

“You know what they say about the future, if you predict it: People will never [care] when you’re right, but they’ll always remember when you’re wrong,” he said.

By Sam Oches

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