Understanding Global Threats To Food Safety: Part 1

By Dr. Jennifer van de Ligt

Living within a global food system means consumers across the globe are dependent upon the food safety systems of every country from which food is imported. But the global food safety system is paper-based, reactive, and rapidly changing, and it will need to stretch to feed almost 10 billion people by the year 2050. The key to improving the situation? We need to understand and plan for how a number of major issues are going to impact food safety going forward. And, more importantly, we need to train our future leaders so they can bring the food system to a more food-secure and food-safe future.

It is imperative that we develop integrated food systems leadership education as a method to improve our readiness to feed the future.  Here are the challenges lining up to threaten the food safety of an interdependent food safety system:

It is imperative that we develop integrated food systems leadership education as a method to improve our readiness to feed the future.


Food production, both plant and animal-based, depends absolutely upon the environment, and environmental factors impact the safety of our food. Nearly 80% of all major internationally reported disasters are climate-related and food in these situations is impacted all the way from the field to the relief centres. In addition, the increasing frequency of extreme weather events predisposes crops and animal agriculture to failure, contamination with mycotoxins, infestation with pests, disease burden, etc. All of these impact food safety with hazards that must be controlled in order to safely use the food. And with increasing temperatures across the globe, growing regions will shift, and new food safety risks will arise.

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