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There are many challenges coming our way – the future of food is discussed at a CCCF side event


The challenges and opportunities posed by the emerging issues in agrifood systems identified by FAO’s foresight programme were outlined at a side event of the Codex Committee on Contaminants in Food in Utrecht on Tuesday 18 April.

The role Codex might play in providing guidance on new foods and new food production systems was discussed by a panel that included Vittorio Fattori, FAO Food Safety Officer, Daniela Battaglia, FAO Animal Production Officer and Ong How Chee from the Singapore Food Agency, and an audience made up of Member Countries and Codex Observers.

Fattori outlined some of the future challenges being posed by urbanization, including changing consumption and production patterns in the urban environment, the circular economy, new food sources and climate change. He emphasized that while many of these factors present difficulties for managing food safety risks, they also promise opportunities. Some opportunities were outlined in Battaglia’s presentation, which addressed emerging issues on feed safety in the context of a circular bioeconomy. Here, a push for alternative feed solutions can involve tackling problems such as food loss and waste, thus freeing up land, crops and water for human consumption. However, it is important to understand the potential safety implications in such strategies.

Chee described new production processes that are being addressed by the Singapore Food Agency, such as the manufacture of cell-based meat and various hydroponic systems, both of which present potential food safety hazards. An example hazard that has arisen from some hydroponic systems is high levels of mercury contamination in food, which is likely to come from the LED lights used. This is just one new food safety issue that could be addressed by CCCF in years to come. “This is just the beginning of a conversation”, said Fattori.

“There are many challenges coming our way”, said the Committee Chair, Sally Hoffer in her closing remarks, acknowledging this and other possible issues for CCCF and Codex. She continued: “It is nice to learn from FAO and WHO and good for us to see if our agenda is fit for purpose in the future. In years to come also. Take this knowledge home to reflect in your country on these issues."


Learn more

FAO’s Foresight publication