The development of new agricultural and nutritional technologies can lead to new risks. The logistics of raw materials for foodstuffs and feed has become much more complex. All these changes have consequences for food safety.
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New technologies such as new preservatives and nanotechnologies are applied in primary production as well as in transport, storage, processing and preparation of animal feed and foodstuffs. The opportunities and possible applications of new technologies are often emphasised, while relatively little attention is paid to possible threats and disadvantages. RIKILT investigates the possible threats that new technologies pose to food safety.
Complex logistics of raw materials
Technological developments are not the only potential threat to food safety. The complex logistics of raw materials used for animal feed and foodstuffs and global differences in regulations and enforcement can also be a factor of influence. RIKILT contributes to food safety in this area by advising the government about regulations and policy.
RIKILT studies the effects of climate change on food safety. According to recent predictions the changing climate may lead to an increased amount of mycotoxin contamination in wheat. In cooperation with other parts of Wageningen UR, RIKILT forecasted climate change impacts of mycotoxin deoxynivalenol on wheat in Northwest-Europe in 2040.
The systems which are currently used to detect contaminations in the food chain are reactive. It is much more efficient to predict potential hazards. Together with a number of European Partners RIKILT investigated whether there are indicators within or outside of the production chain which directly or indirectly signal an upcoming threat. Many indicators were identified, which were mostly connected to agriculture, toxicology, trade, regulations and human behaviour. Based on this knowledge RIKILT and Wageningen UR partners are currently developing an ‘early warning’ system, which predicts potential risks in the food chain (Emerging Risks Detection Support System, ERDSS).