The network – to be led by the Quadram Institute – will connect food industry, food and health policymakers and academia to collaboratively pursue shared research priorities that will protect the UK from foodborne hazards, an issue that costs the UK up to £9bn each year.
It will serve as an innovation hub to coordinate and fund cross-sectoral research and training activities that address current and emerging challenges.
Core objectives for the network included: identifying areas of research need and opportunity that will have meaningful impacts on UK food safety; coordinating research activities that promote the application of science towards food safety challenges; and host training promoting skills development, interoperability and relationship-building.
FSA chief scientific adviser Robin May, said: “The network directly aligns with the core objectives of the FSA Strategy 2022-2027 to ensure food is safe and food is what it says it is.
“Importantly, the network will ensure that the FSA is well-placed to tackle the challenges of foodborne illnesses by bringing together experts from government, industry and academia to address current and emerging issues of food safety in the UK.'
Microbes and pathogens
Quadram Institute director Ian Charles highlighted the threat that microbes pose to the safety of food and the need to set up systems to keep the transmission of pathogens and novel antimicrobial resistance genes from agriculture in check.
“The challenge is to take an integrated and unified approach to these problems right through from agriculture and the environment, to food production and human health, in what’s termed a ‘One Health’ approach,” Charles added.
“To do that we need to collaborate with food and other associated industries to share research and innovation and deliver training activities.”
Food Safety Network objectives
- assemble a community of UK food producers, food policy makers and scientific researchers who collectively can take robust actions toward improving food safety
- identify areas of research need and opportunity that, in the view of food stakeholders and network members, will have meaningful impacts on UK food safety
- coordinate new collaborative research activities that will promote the application of science towards the food safety challenges identified by our food system community
- host training promoting skills development, interoperability and relationship-building between our food system community
- translate the knowledge generated within the Network to food safety stakeholders, and to upcycle existing information and technologies relevant to food safety that have not yet been applied more broadly