/ Food Safety

Hard to assess health risks when we don’t know where our food comes from

By July 8, 2019 November 6th, 2019 No Comments

Consumers’ trust in the safety of their food is greatly impacted by the daily news. The latest news about food safety is a report published by the Dutch Council for Safety Research (‘Onderzoeksraad van Veiligheid’). In its report (article in Dutch), the council states: “The fact that our food is being produced all over the world makes it increasingly difficult to assess possible health risks.”

Food scandals

The reason for the Research Council to start their research was a big food scandal in The Netherlands two years ago, when large amounts of eggs were found to contain the harmful pesticide fipronil. The council also mentions two other, less recent, scandals in Holland of food being infected by bacteria, concerning salmonella and E. coli. As their chairman stresses, the large scale and unexpectedness of these bacterial outbreaks show that our food’s safety risks are growing.

Increased health risks

The second conclusion the report draws: “Since health risks have increased and have become harder to contain over the last couple of years, food authorities need to act faster.” When faced with the three recent food safety scandals, the Dutch Food Authority (NVWA) did not show sufficient efficiency, authority or expertise to effectively assess the possible risks to public health – that’s the Safety Research Council’s critical evaluation.

How is all of this relevant for you and us? According to the report, the most important reason for it becoming harder to correctly establish and then prevent food safety risks is this: “Food production now happens globally, with food chains and trade flows growing ever more complex. It is hard to maintain an overview of all the parts that modern food chains consist of. Our own conclusion: with the help of, for example, blockchain, we can create a more transparent food chain. And that, in turn, leads to fewer risks and more food safety!

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