Citizen Science and Food Safety
Public food safety testing is in our sights – but we must prepare accordingly to ensure that faith in experts persists.
Michel Nielen | | Opinion
Food safety was once considered a given, but the widely reported scandals of recent years have refocused the public’s attention and brought to life the reality that food adulteration is an ever-present risk. Accordingly, food analysis acts as a front line of defense against such dangers. But current approaches are only partly effective.
In the September 2019 issue of The Analytical Scientist, Chris Elliott, Hans-Gerd Janssen and I discussed these issues in light of the hot topics to be discussed at RAFA 2019. The consensus: while current approaches offer a high level of protection against food fraud, these services are costly and inefficient. Though we do a good job of detecting non-compliance in about 1 percent of all samples collected, is that a good enough hit rate? If 99 percent of samples are compliant, is the administrative and logistical effort undertaken to assess them wisely spent?
Consider another angle: reducing food spoilage is of the utmost importance across the globe. But how do consumers know if food is good to eat or a danger to health with vague statements on the package such as “best before....” or “may contain....”? The human nose is not always good enough...
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