Food safety and quality


Foresight is an approach that positions policy makers and private sector operators to address issues that will, or could, emerge in the medium-to-long term. The approach starts with gathering different types of information through forward-looking techniques, such as horizon scanning, scenario building or Delphi surveys, analysing it, and then using it to inform a proactive decision-making process. While no one can predict the future, we can prepare for different possibilities by looking at early signs of change.

Why is foresight important in food safety?


The global agrifood system is a complex space. Today, food producers, manufacturers and suppliers operate in rapidly evolving contexts with new food safety issues emerging due to the globalization of the food supply chain, climate change, population growth, migration, changes in dietary patterns and more. For instance, new food sources and food production systems as well as rapid evolution of technological innovations, while offering promising opportunities, might also have food safety and regulatory implications that need to be proactively assessed. At same time, it is important to stay abreast of evolving science including for examples in areas such as the increased understanding of the role of microbiome on health and the related consequence in food safety risk assessment; or the growing attention on sustainability accompanied by increased emphasis on the principle of circular economy. These are just some of the observed emerging trends that can come with various benefits for the agrifood systems, but might also bring unique challenges in terms of food safety, which need to be given due consideration.  


How agrifood systems are transformed over the coming decades will have profound implications for food safety – in addition to our health, economic, social wellbeing and the environment - and as such it will be critical to keep pace with these changes. Foresight can help us to understand how new trends, changes or knowledge gaps can affect the agrifood systems in general, and food safety in particular. Preparing for how the future might unfold will allow us to better respond to risks as well as optimize opportunities. Foresight can help bridge science and policy by utilizing a long-term thinking approach to inform a range of food chain-related decisions and help ensure that food is kept is safe, no matter what form it takes or what is happening around its production and processing.

Our Work


FAO has a vast array of expertise, knowledge and a network that spans the agrifood sector worldwide. From this unique position, FAO is well placed to gather insights/ information and support countries in doing so, as well as disseminate food safety intelligence to its multitude of stakeholders, and provide proactive and strategic guidance at the global, regional and national level.