Global Food Security Themes for 2022

– TO ANALYSE –

What will the new year bring? We cannot be sure of everything, but we already know a few things in perspective in 2022.

The coronavirus will always be present and will have an impact on the food sector; new trade rules and embargoes will need to be addressed by importers and exporters; and global food safety strategies will become clearer.

Some of the problems listed in 2021 are also expected to continue this year. Additionally, at the bottom of this article, you can find a selection of events in order of date.

Impact of COVID-19 on foodborne illness
The pandemic has had a direct and indirect impact on foodborne infections according to many public health officials. Most reports in 2021 covered the previous year with disease and epidemic figures down, sometimes by more than half, although the more serious ones like Listeria and botulism haven’t gone down as much as agents like norovirus, in most cases.

From national reports to be released for 2021, I suspect we will still see the impact of COVID-19, but it might not be as significant with public health agencies adjusting to the pandemic, fewer lockdowns and fewer travel restrictions and more open food businesses. This can help us determine more conclusively whether the declines are in fact due to a reduction in the number of sick people or to cases that have gone unreported. The likely answer is that it’s a bit of both.

Chinese requirements
The General Administration of Customs of China (GAC) will require all food and beverage manufacturers exporting to the country to register with the agency and display registration numbers on the label and packaging. . Failure to do so will prevent companies from being able to send products to China. The two new rules were published in April 2021 and come into effect from January 2022.

One of the laws requires all manufacturers, processors and storage facilities of imported food overseas to register with the GAC and identify food categories requiring special registration, such as meat products, products dairy, egg products, nuts and seeds, dried fruits and health. food.

The other covers a series of requirements on food sent to China, including facility registration, filing of records by importers and exporters, quarantine and inspection, and product labeling.

Belarus bans some food imports
From January 2022 Belarus bans certain imports of products such as beef and pork, meat and poultry products, milk and dairy products, vegetables, fruits, nuts, confectionery and salt .

It affects goods from EU countries, USA, Canada, Norway, Albania, Iceland, North Macedonia, UK and Switzerland. Other products could be added to the list. The ban is in effect for an initial period of six months. Belarusian officials said the move was a response to international sanctions.

Industry group Freshfel Europe, the European Fresh Produce Association, has raised concerns about restrictions on international trade. Philippe Binard, of Freshfel Europe, said fruits and vegetables are too often used as bargaining chips in other conflicts.

“Once again, European fruits and vegetables are held hostage to international geopolitical conflicts,” Binard said. “In 2014, the Russian embargo hit the fresh produce sector hard. The European fruit and vegetable sector already bears about a third of the 7.5 billion euros ($ 8.5 billion) burden of the Russian embargo. Later in the decade, the Algerian embargo affected nearly 300,000 tonnes of exports. More recently, the United States has also included fruits and vegetables in retaliatory measures affecting the citrus category in particular. “

The Belarusian embargo concerns around 400,000 to 500,000 tonnes of fresh produce from the EU, mainly affecting apples, pears, strawberries and tomatoes. Poland is Belarus’ main supplier with others including Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain, Greece and Italy.

FAO and WHO Food Safety Strategies
The World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations publish updated food safety strategies for 2022. In May, the WHO strategy for 2022 to 2030 will be taken up by the 75th World Health Assembly. Those from FAO will be presented at the next meeting of the Committee on Agriculture.

WHO has also launched a community of practice on food safety (COP). This is an online forum for professionals working and interested in food safety issues. Members will have access to webinars, monthly updates and food security resources and can submit event announcements and other content to share with the community. Join by by following this link.

By 2025, we should have updated the figures of the estimates released in 2015 on the global burden of foodborne illness. The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2022 the International Year of Small-Scale Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA).

Fourth World Food Safety Day
Maybe, just maybe, the fourth World Food Safety Day will involve more physical activity, with the second and third attempts to mark this day being put online because of COVID-19. Food security news got a mention in a report highlighting who did what on June 7 for our annual day coverage, which involved over 300 events in 90 countries.

Food security in Africa
Hopefully the momentum gained in 2021 from a number of events will continue into 2022.

There was the IFC Food Security Forum, the African Continental Association for Food Protection (ACAFP) organized the first ACAFP Conference on Food Security in Africa and several webinars as part of the EatSafe project, led by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). We could see developments to support the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the possible creation of an African Food Safety Agency and updates to the African Food Safety Index.

Divergence of rules now that the UK has left the EU
Now that the UK is no longer a member of the European Union, it may have different food rules. Some of the potential changes will come from natural reviews in a timely manner, while others could be driven by trade agreements. We have already seen a different approach in the ethylene oxide incident, as EU countries have recalled products while the UK has gone for the opt-out option.

A comment period is underway in the UK regarding controls on food imports from Japan following the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011. The EU has already updated its rules on these controls . Another complication is that while England can do one thing, Wales or Scotland can do another. Then there’s Northern Ireland, which has to stick to EU rules under the Northern Ireland Protocol.

UK and EU are taking action to change rules on gene editing in plants, addressing the genetically modified organism (GMO) regulation expected to follow. Another example is the use of the food additive titanium dioxide which is to be banned in the EU but the UK decision is pending.

Annual reports on recalls and food fraud
We should hear the results of the next annual Opson operation, coordinated by Interpol and Europol, on questionable food and drink. Opson X in 2021 involved the seizure of 15,000 tonnes of food and drink worth $ 60 million. This included bivalves, such as mussels and oysters, unfit for human consumption; organic bananas from Ecuador with traces of pesticides; passport for horses and horse meat problems; honey fraud; and colorants used to alter the quality of beverages.

The figures on notifications in the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) portal in 2021 will be updated. In 2020, ethylene oxide recalls dominated and will feature strongly again, but the decline in border rejection notifications in 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19 on global trade may not be. also noticeable in 2021 data. This report also covers joint notification summary alerts. These were not made public at the time, but detail small-scale foodborne outbreaks in several countries.

The European agri-food fraud prevention network, which records discussions but not actual incidents, will publish a new annual report. In 2020, the main categories reported in the system were fats and oils and fish and meat products. Selling dietary supplements online, primarily related to health claims for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, was a key topic. The main non-compliance in 2020 was poor labeling.

Events scheduled for 2022:

  • BRCGS Food Safety Europe February 10 in London, UK
  • Arab Summit on Food Security on 30 dates from March 13 to Nov. 30.
  • GFSI Conference March 29-31 in Barcelona, ​​Spain
  • IAFP European Symposium May 4-6 in Munich, Germany
  • Turkish Food Safety Congress June 9-10 in Istanbul, Turkey
  • Food Safety Summit SA June to be confirmed online
  • EU Food Safety Summit June 13-14 in Milan, Italy
  • Proactive Conference on Food Security June 15 in London
  • ONE – Health, Environment, Society – Conference June 21-24 in Brussels
  • Safe Consomme project conference June 27-28 in Bucharest, Romania
  • CIEH Conference on Food Security June 28-29 online
  • Micro Food August 28-31 in Athens, Greece
  • Fast Methods Europe October 3-5 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • EHEDG World Congress on Hygienic Engineering and Design October 12-13 in Munich
  • Recent Advances in Food Analysis (RAFA) 31 Oct-4 Nov in Prague, Czech Republic

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