Can we eliminate food scares?
Opinion by Sebastien Bossard
(Dinard, France, June 7 , 2019)
Food alerts are on the rise, with almost daily episodes of product recalls in many countries, which do not prevent sometimes dramatic consequences. Yet nothing is inevitable. But there is one condition: we must reinvent ourselves and adopt innovative solutions. So let’s do it!
With an estimated 600 million cases of foodborne illnesses annually (http: /www.fao.org/about/meetings/future-food-safety/en/), unsafe food is a threat to human health and economies. That's why the United Nations has declared June 7 International Food Safety Day, a day to bring food safety into the spotlight, to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks.
These concerns are totally shared by Kersia. We were created just a year ago through bringing together the skills and expertise of international players in biosecurity solutions for the farm and agri-food sector. Having met many active players in every segment of the food chain over the past 12 months, I have reached the following two conclusions:
- Food safety is - more than ever - the number one concern, while product recalls and withdrawals are unfortunately almost daily occurrences. The risks come from the diversity of health risks attached to the food chain, from increasingly complex production processes and distribution channels, and also the need to still improve the control chain.
- To remedy this, we must reinvent the control and preventive measures upstream of the production chain.
Yes, a lot has already been done by all the relevant players. Food safety is a complex process that begins at the farm and ends with the consumer. The food processing sector has made significant efforts to adopt ISO or HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) certification measures. Contract specifications negotiated with suppliers and distributors require strict traceability measures. Traceability makes it possible to react efficiently when an incident or crisis occurs, to track products potentially at risk more quickly and locate the source of the problem. Governmental and health authorities in many countries keep on strengthening their regulations in this area. Consumers, naturally attracted by tasty and competitively-priced food, pay nevertheless more and more attention to health risks. Monitoring systems for foodborne illnesses and alert management systems are increasingly effective. Now, we must reduce their occurrence.
To do this, we must have new innovative tools mixing chemistry, biotechnologies and digital technology. Farmers and food processing players will soon have those tools to anticipate problems. Reinforcing prevention through anticipation will help reduce production loss, improve overall quality, create value in the food chain, and more importantly, better protect consumers.
At Kersia, we want to be an actor of this change. Innovation is at the heart of the DNA of our Group and its mission: “ Inventing a food safe world”. We focus our research efforts on this quest for disruptive solutions. This is the ambition that unites our teams. This is the promise we make to our employees so they can flourish at work and contribute to the realization of our vision of a food safe world.
Sebastien Bossard is Chief Executive Officer of Kersia (Dinard, France)
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