Continuing our work in FSOLabs: The FSOLab on Food Safety Strategic and Innovation Agenda
Date : 2021-09-17
Author : Alessio Livio Spera

On September 2021, the Food Safety Operational Lab 3 (FSOLab 3) kicked off with 22 participants from 14 countries across different business sectors (e.g., research, industry, academia, European Initiatives, Food Safety Authorities etc.). 

FSOLab 3 is managed by Dr. Denisa E. Duță, Dr. Nastasia Belc and Dr. Gabriel Mustățea, from The National R&D Institute for Food Bioresources (IBA, Romania), supported by Dr. Biancamaria Ciasca from National Research Council of Italy – Institute of Sciences of Food Production (CNR, Italy) as Lab Facilitator. 

FSOLab 3 aims to develop Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) in Food Safety addressing the fragmentation of the Food Safety Stakeholders, policy priorities and emerging technologies. 

The 1st workshop was conducted on two challenging days and introduced the participants in the Social Lab process in order to form a collaborative team which was able to analyze the existing Research and Innovation Strategies, Research Programmes, Implementation Plans (provided draft) related to food safety areas, to identify gaps, to improve the approaching of food safety in a systematic way and to obtain a comprehensive diagnosis as a basis for discussions. At the end of the workshop, participants were able to identify some pilot ideas in the Food Safety sector for implementation for achieving a coherent SRIA.

The Analysis of existing Research Agendas related to Food Safety issues (Relevant EU Policies; EU General Food Law and related risk-based food safety regulatory frameworks; The EU Green Deal; Farm to Fork strategy; Biodiversity strategy; Strategy for sustainable Chemicals; Common agricultural policy (CAP); EU consumer policy; EU environment policy; EU global food security) revealed that the Key drivers with impact in Food Safety are: climate change, changes in food and farming systems; Rapid technological advancements and emerging technologies; Integration and improving risk assessment methodologies; Assessment of new technologies; The current COVID-19 pandemic.

After the evaluation of the most relevant challenges in food safety domainassociated R&D directions were proposed by participants to minimize/solve the challenges which were further clustered into seven core themes: Effective communication and public awareness; Novel hazards and risks; Sustainable and food safety system transformation; Food authenticity and traceability; Safe choices in consumption pattern; New technologies impact; Digital transformation. “Novel hazards and risks” was voted as the core theme with the highest importance and lowest uncertainty among the other ones, to be taken into consideration for defining a pilot implemented during the project lifetime.

Suggested Pilot Actions for FSOLab3 for core theme: Novel hazards and risks.

The pilot actions were drafted in terms of: time structure; target groups; information and research required; responsibilities and roles; milestones and next steps

Pilot idea 1 – Alliance on Food systems: emerging risks and hazards

– To bring together all the food safety actors for building a common strategy to address emerging risks and hazards
– To have an overall picture of the actors and repository of research/actions/initiatives
– European Food Safety Partnership as a tool for collaboration
– Pilot approach for building a part of the EFS Forum

Pilot idea 2 – Fast-response RIA for emerging hazards

– Strategy for a Research Innovation Agenda
Target groups (involved in drafting the SRIA through consultation and STEEPV analysis): national authorities (e.g. FSA), policy makers and risk managers (e.g DG Sante, EFSA), research, industry, consumers, society, professional associations, ad hoc young people structured group) to guarantee a systemic approach and cross-sectorial approach

Next step: the drafted pilot ideas will be further analyzed and discussed in the 2nd FSOlab 3 workshop (Autumn 2021) to establish a priority list of topics for future research to address global challenges (SDGs, RRI).

All in all, the first FSOLab 3 wokshop was very demanding but promising in contributing to build a SRIA which will reinforce the role of Europe as global leader in food safety standards.

Denisa E. Duță, FSOLab manager, FoodSafety4EU

 National R&D Institute for Food Bioresources-IBA Bucharest, Romania