This article in Food Safety News shares details of the creation of the UK Food Safety Research Network. The network is to be hosted on an online platform designed to allow members from across of the food and health sectors to share research which addresses issues of food safety.
The initiative is the result of a new partnership between the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Quadram Institute, a food and health research centre, and host of the platform.
That food safety has become the target of renewed focus by UK regulatory bodies is not a surprise - as the article states, the cost to the nation's economy of the 2.4m cases of foodborne illness that occur each year runs to £9bn.
While food hygiene has never been far from the minds of consumers, the Covid 19 pandemic served to heighten public awareness. An FSA survey taken in 2021 found that 95% of UK respondents who were aware of Food Hygiene Ratings believed that they should be mandatory to display. Clearly, this is a general public who demand the right to safe food in properly controlled environments and wish to see the evidence.
Of course this is not just an issue in the UK. For context, the annual cost to the US economy of foodborne illness is around $900m, and on the African continent the same issue claims 137,000 lives each year.
As Intertek, we are fortunate that we can play a key role in the push for continuous improvement in global food safety. Whether through our Food Hygiene Control Program, holistic safety solutions such as Protek, or through performance of due diligence sampling and testing, we are supporting the provision of safe, quality food to the consumer.
Every audit or inspection we complete, every remedial action we recommend, every analytical certificate we sign off, is a contribution to this shared goal. We are there to support our customers and protect their businesses and brand and, wherever we offer support, we are also defenders of public health.
The UK Food Safety Research Network will connect industry, food and health policymakers and academia on shared research priorities to protect the UK from foodborne hazards. It will coordinate and fund cross-sectoral work and training that address current and emerging challenges.