Tag Archives: FAO

Safety of Cell-based Food Report

UN Releases Report on Safety of Cell-based Food Products

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Safety of Cell-based Food Report

As regulatory bodies in the U.S. and around the globe prepare to accept cell-based food products into their markets, a new report, Food Safety Aspects of Cell-Based Food, sheds light on potential hazards posed by this new class of foods.

Published jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the 146-page report includes country case studies from Israel, Qatar, Singapore, as well as findings and recommendations from a global technical panel of experts from academia and industry.

The panel identified 53 potential hazards that may be introduced during the Cell Sourcing, Cell Harvesting, Food Production and Food Processing Phases. All of which exist within traditionally produced foods, apart from:

  • The potential for expression of novel toxins, toxic metabolites, or allergens or a change in expression of toxins, toxic metabolites, or allergens as a result of genomic instability, genetic or phenotypic Instability, and / or induced through physical or biochemical stimuli during cell culture.
  • Physiochemical transformation of food components (i.e., altered protein structure, reactive species formation) due to food processing or storage. The panel notes that while this same hazard is present in conventionally produced food, cell-based foods may contain new inputs (e.g., scaffolds and residues) and processing ingredients that must be tested.

“Many hazards are already well-known, and they exist in conventionally produced food,” the reports reads. “For example, microbiological contamination can occur at any stages of any food production process, including those involved in producing cell-based food. The experts concluded, however, that most cases of microbial contamination during the cell growth and production stages would inhibit cell growth. If the cells have grown and reached product expectations for harvest, then occurrence of such contamination would be extremely rare during the production process, but it could occur post-harvest, as is the case with many other food products. Various existing prerequisite programmes such as good manufacturing and hygiene practices, as well as food safety management systems such as Hazard Identification and Critical Control Points (HACCP), are applicable to ensure food safety for cell-based food.”

The reports calls for additional research and funding to determine if cell-based foods could provide healthy, nutritious, and sustainable food for future generations, while reducing environmental impacts by using less land and water, emitting fewer greenhouse gases, reducing agriculture-related pollution, improving farm animal welfare and reducing the risk of zoonotic diseases that can spread from animals to humans.

Additional topics touched upon by the Technical Panel include the challenge of high production costs, the need for uniform terminology, potential regulatory frameworks for cell-based foods, and a need to further investigate consumer perception and acceptance (including taste and affordability).

FAO Graphic

United Nations FAO Sets Food Safety Priorities

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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FAO Graphic

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation (FAO) has published its Strategic Priorities for Food Safety 2022-2031. These priorities were developed collaboratively with FAO Members, international partner organizations (IAEA, WOAH, WTO/STDF, UNIDO, WHO), and FAO technical divisions and centers to “support members in continuing to improve food safety at all levels by providing scientific advice and strengthening their food safety capacities for efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems.”

The document, created at the request of the 27th session of the FAO Committee on Agriculture (COAG) and approved by the 171st session of FAO Council, is structured around four interconnected strategic outcomes focusing on governance, scientific advice, strengthening national food control systems and promoting public-private partnerships throughout the food chain.

The FAO noted that its goal is to encourage a more coherent integration of food safety into the development of sustainable and inclusive agrifood systems, food security, and nutrition policies as well as agricultural development strategies. “Our aspiration is that this document helps spur investments and secure adequate human and financial resources for FAO to successfully implement its food safety program,” said Corinna Hawkes, FAO Director of the Food Systems and Food Safety Division.

The four strategic outcomes include:
1. Intergovernmental and intersectoral coordination of food safety governance is reinforced at all levels.

2. Sound scientific advice and evidence are provided as the foundation for food safety decision-making.

3. National food control systems are further strengthened and are continuously improved by:

  • Providing technical support to FAO Members to evaluate their national food control systems, identify needs and design integrated capacity development programs
  • Supporting FAO Members and relevant stakeholders, particularly in developing and transition economy countries, where requested, to participate more actively in Codex Alimentarius work
  • Supporting FAO Members in developing and updating their food safety standards, legal frameworks and government policies, as well as operational level procedures and guidelines
  • Helping FAO Members generate relevant food safety data that reflects their national context/situation
  • Supporting FAO Members and relevant stakeholders to embrace relevant technological developments, including digital technologies, in food control and food safety management

4. Public and private stakeholder collaboration is promoted to ensure food safety management and controls throughout agrifood systems by:

  • Supporting both governments and food chain actors starting from primary production and including associated industries, academia, consumers and other stakeholders, in adopting gender responsive and inclusive programs of preventative food safety control and management
  • Providing the tools and resources for stakeholders to make informed choices and adopt food safety interventions that are specific to their countries’ priorities, safety risks and their constituents’ differentiated needs
  • Ensuring that lessons learned from national- and regional-level food safety control programs and initiatives can inform global level normative work and strengthen dialogues on food safety
  • Supporting initiatives aiming to create training programs and curricula that better reflect the complexity of food safety and the need for collaborations across disciplines

Download the full document here.


Farmer in Madagascar

FAO Director: Immediate Efforts Needed to Reduce Global Threats to Agrifood Systems

Farmer in Madagascar

The challenges undermining global food security call for a complex approach embracing investment, policy reforms and better use of resources, Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) told a key meeting of the G20 on July 10.

“Recent global events, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the climate crisis, multiple conflicts around the world and the war in Ukraine, have all heavily affected agrifood systems in multiple ways,” Qu told the G20 Sherpa meeting of senior government representatives.

Qu cited the recently launched 2022 edition of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) Report, which confirms that world hunger increased again in 2021, reflecting growing inequalities across and within countries. It says 828 million people suffered from hunger in 2021, an increase of 46 million from 2020 and 150 million from 2019 before the pandemic.

The war in Ukraine has added to an already challenging situation and could lead to an increase of 13 million more chronically undernourished people this year, and 17 million more in 2023, according to FAO estimates.

Another global challenge is rising inflation, with world food prices increasing since mid-2020 due to many factors. FAO calculates that the increase in the food import bill for the 62 most vulnerable countries amounts to $24.6 billion in 2022, and it affects 1.79 billion people.

In response to this growing challenge, FAO has developed a proposal for a global Food Import Financing Facility, which aims to assist countries in financing their food purchases to minimize any risk of social unrest. “This proposal should be implemented by the IMF (International Monetary Fund) under their balance of payments financial mechanism,” the FAO Director-General urged.

Among the other challenges, average fertilizer prices have increased significantly, almost tripling since mid-2021, together with rising energy prices. Changes in trade routes and current constraints will further increase the global fertilizer price. If countries producing major food staples, such as rice, are not able to get enough fertilizers in the upcoming planting season, this could affect the global supply of food, said Qu.

Trade reduction and interruption of the supply chain are of major concern, the Director-General added. At the end of May, 22 countries had implemented export restrictions through 39 measures ranging from bans to export taxes affecting almost 16% of agricultural exports, on a kilocalorie basis.

Package of Measures Needed

To address these challenges, Qu said the international community needs to implement a package of measures that include:

  • Invest in countries most in need that are most affected by the increase in food prices. In addition to providing timely food aid, focus on boosting productivity by paying more attention to producing nutritious food locally. Currently only 8% of all food security funding in emergencies goes to assist agricultural production. Investing in agriculture and rural livelihoods is strategic, and 7 to 10 times more cost-effective than traditional assistance.
  • Put policies in place that both increase productivity and protect natural resources, and that are specific to regional needs. Transforming agrifood systems to deliver healthy, nutritious diets, and with more equitable outcomes, will require significant financial investment, estimated at 8% of the size of the agrifood market. Accelerate the African Continental Free Trade Area by speeding up the normative work on food safety standards, and by reducing tariffs and non-tariff barriers. Intraregional trade as well as investment should be accelerated in all regions of the world.
  • Ensure better and more efficient use of available outputs and inputs to produce more with less. This must include water, as water stress remains a priority, with 1 billion hectares of agricultural land facing severe water constraints; 800 million hectares of rainfed cropland and pastureland severely affected by recurring drought. Use the best available technologies and regulations for efficient gains in the way we use water in agriculture. Reducing food loss and waste is key, as the current high amounts of loss and waste could feed around 1.26 billion people per year. Fertilizers also need to be used more efficiently, with the aid of technology and science based re-distribution of applications across the production process, supported by fast implementation of detailed soil maps to assist the most vulnerable countries to use their fertilizers efficiently.

“It is critical to facilitate the smooth functioning of global food markets and to secure food supply for all,” Qu said.