How can we make food safety monitoring as effective as possible with the available resources? That is the question that the Chair of Food Safety Economics is tackling. This is the central topic of the inaugural address of special professor Ine van der Fels-Klerx on October 20, 2022. The title of her speech is: 'Integrating economics in food safety monitoring: what, where and how?'
Food safety is under pressure
Despite the fact that food in the Netherlands and Europe has never been as safe as it is today, there are all kinds of developments that put this safety under pressure. For example, due to climate changes, the presence of pesticide residues and natural toxins, such as mycotoxins and plant toxins, may increase. Other chemical and microbiological hazards also lurk. In addition, the transition to a circular economy is a point of attention. Because residual flows from food production are returned to the food chain, the risks in the field of food safety must be critically examined.
Risk-based and cost-effective monitoring
Van der Fels-Klerx states in her speech that not all food products and ingredients can be checked for all possible food safety hazards. The list of possible safety hazards, products, and their ingredients are simply too large. So choices have to be made. One way to do this is to apply risk-based monitoring. This means that sampling and testing focus on those products and hazards that pose the greatest risk to human and animal health.
In addition, you can make choices based on cost-effective monitoring. Which samples and which amounts are you going to analyze in order to achieve the highest impact with your monitoring program with the available resources? In this context, calculations have been made for the optimal number of samples for monitoring dioxins in animal products in the Netherlands. This showed that approximately 90 fewer samples can be taken each year without reducing the effectiveness of the monitoring.
Combining food safety and economy
In her Chair of Food Safety Economics, Van der Fels-Klerx wants to further expand research into cost-effective monitoring of food safety hazards. She does this by combining the research areas of economics and food safety. The chair focuses on risk-based and cost-effective sampling and analysis plans for food safety hazards in feed and food production chains. The chair thus contributes to making the decisions that need to be made more transparent, objective, and more scientific.
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