Keeping watch – food safety innovation around the world

The Russell Partnership's Professor David Russell and Charlotte Harbour tell us about FoodWatch, a new digital platform for food safety and nutrition

Our work continues in the Middle East planning one of the world’s largest and longest food events – 52 million meals in 173 days, yes real numbers!

Visitor satisfaction is always a high priority in all service industries but never beats food safety, so with this month’s issue focused on safety, we talk through a few key thoughts and a sector global first.

From small events to mega events, understanding the types of potential threats to the food supply chain will help determine the most effective controls to reduce the likelihood of the risk. Food providers are, of course, required to manage their approach to food defence and security by identifying and mitigating against the risk from malicious and ideologically motivated attacks to food products which may lead to contamination or supply disruption.

A Threat Assessment Critical Control Point (TACCP) approach is a good food safety benchmark to be adopted as part of your risk-management process. This will support the assessment of the nature and size of the threat, vulnerability of your operation, and risks from which critical controls can be identified, particularly concerning access to food preparation areas, tamper detection and assurance measures to determine personnel security… is your approach up to date and secure?

Professor David Russell

Now for a piece of innovation – we are working in Dubai with FoodWatch. 

FoodWatch is Dubai Municipality’s digital platform designed to collect and analyse all food-related data to ensure safe and nutritious food for consumers. Its main objective is to digitise documents and records maintained by more than 20,000 organisations that are involved in verifying regulatory compliance: importing; selling or processing food; offering services for food safety and nutrition; providing training, consultancy or certification; and/or supplying food equipment.

The platform when fully functional, by 2020, will have smart applications that will provide ‘customised’ information and functionalities to the government authorities, food industry, and consumers alike that would ensure not only that foods can be traced to their source, but also that they are processed and consumed safely – watch this space! 

The facts speak for themselves when you note that, Dubai imports approximately $200bn of food products from around 200 countries and food-borne illnesses are responsible for 420,000 deaths a year worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Although food-borne diseases rank among the global community’s most preventable illnesses, a recent WHO report reveals that almost one in 10 people contract a food-related illness every year. Astonishingly, the loss of otherwise healthy life years attributed to premature death and disability caused by food-related illness is 33 million years annually.

I say we all need to play our part!

For further info: www.foodwatch.ae