Emerging global food safety challenges and how to address them

Weaknesses triggered by zoonotic disease and mycotoxins will be intensified due to the impacts of climate change, a move to plant-based and circular economies. Here, four experts explore the upcoming issues to be aware of and how we might forge a safe path forwards.

Zoonoses and extreme weather events in Europe, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, have shone a spotlight on the underlying vulnerabilities of our global food systems;1 they are a wakeup call that must be heeded. Moreover, most of our food is not produced in single production chains, but in a complex web of actors that trade on a global scale. Many influential sectors and drivers for improved food safety in these chains have already been identified; among them: climate change, growing global population, changing patterns of urbanisation, changing dietary patterns and demographics, water scarcity, and reduced biodiversity (see Figure 1).2

These drivers can have direct and indirect effects on the emergence and spread of food safety hazards, and can also be connected or interrelated with each other. Critically, these global stressors impact on regional and often local food safety management procedures that become incapable of maintaining safe food, resulting in disturbance of the system and the emergence of a range of food safety hazards.

Food safety hazards figure1

Figure 1