As an endeavour to promote latest advances in food safety and food security, CII-HUL Initiative on Food Safety Sciences (CHIFSS)in partnership with FSSAI organised its 6th Stakeholder Forum on “Scientific Advances in Food Safety and Food Security”. Given the triple challenges of food safety, food security and nutritional security faced by the country, there is an urgent need to drive improvements in efficiency and effectiveness of the overall food system. The Stakeholder Forum was attended by stakeholders including eminent scientists, government officials and professionals from academia and Industry along with students from related fields.
Dr. A Sivakumar, Regulatory Affairs Director, Hindustan Unilever Limited welcomed the audience to the event. He highlighted the need to institutionalize food safety and build capacity and capability. He highlighted the work done by CHIFSS so far in the area of mitigation of foodborne illnesses, microbiological food safety and need for risk-based approaches by coordinating with international and national experts to bring in best global practices.
The context of the ‘Scientific Advances in Food Safety and Food Security’ forum was set by Dr. Alok Dhawan, Director, CSIR – Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Lucknow. He outlined advanced scientific capabilities that are being built in the country to help food safety and food security for the nation. He further highlighted the critical need for the timely adoption of the next generation science-based, risk-based, objective safety evaluation approaches, application of sensors and diagnostic techniques into regulatory frameworks, so that we can keep pace with the developed world, whilst ensuring a great future for our farmers and food industry and health of our vast population, and emphasized the need to focus at the origin of food supply chain viz., agriculture production end, which will help deliver safe foods to the consumers.
Highlighting the importance of Next Generation Risk Assessment (NGRA) and its regulatory adoption, Dr. Paul Hepburn, SEAC Programme Director, Food Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre, Unilever, UK, showcased risk assessment tools. He also shares compelling case studies which pointed towards practical application of these principles to food safety decision making.
Dr. Shannon Olsson, Head –Naturalist Inspired Chemical Ecology (NICE) at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru. Against the backdrop of India’s current and emerging agricultural and food security challenges, NICE brings to the front a new area of ecological science that depends on natural means of improving agricultural productivity, crop protection, and wastage prevention. Dr. Olsson presented interesting case studies where principles like ‘push’ and ‘pull’ were employed to ensure crop protection.
Ms. Rita Teaotia, Chairperson, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India spoke of the scale of challenges faced by India where 1.3 billion population is vulnerable to both undernutrition and overnutrition whilst facing several food safety concerns. She highlighted the need to deliberate both food security and food safety through the lens of science.
Dr. Indrani Ghose, Strategic Advisor, CII-FACEconcluded the forum by stating that CHIFSS, in partnership with FSSAI, is becoming one of the pioneering examples of scientific capability building platform. CHIFSS will continue to focus on building advanced scientific capabilities and enabling the acceleration of technical capacity building in the country with the aim of achieving food safety excellence at par with the global standards.
As part of the deliberations, a panel discussion on “Scientific Advances in Food Safety and Food Security – How to integrate this into practice” was conducted with domain experts on wide-ranging issues e.g. Anti-microbial Resistance, Microbiome, and pesticide residues in food. There were views wherein it was expressed the need to be proactive in adopting newer risk assessment approaches as only these will help in ensuring safe food for the large population. Farm-level safety in regulation was also discussed.