June 22nd, 2020
The opportunity to strengthen food safety

At the end of the acute phase of the Covid-19 crisis, the World Food Safety Day initiated by the World Health Organization on June 7th resonates particularly this year. This unprecedented health and economic crisis may bring with it opportunities to positively change the food supply chain. 

This crisis shows first of all the vital importance for humanity to meet food security needs. Given that the Executive Director of the World Food Programme has estimated that the number of people at risk of famine could double to 130 million by the end of 2020, we clearly understand that food is one of the most crucial sectors worldwide. The experience of containment and shutdown of a large part of activities justifies the opening of a reflection on the reliability of supplies of raw materials, consumables or strategic services such as transport, taking into account the location and resilience of suppliers to face a major health crisis.

Indeed, this crisis has disturbed and is still disturbing the organisation of many companies throughout the food chain and we are seeing major changes in consumer expectations. Emphasis is placed in particular on sustainability, preference for local suppliers, increased hygiene awareness and an acceleration of digitalisation in exchanges and flows. Product reliability is also an increasingly important expectation for consumers. While crises often lead to an increase in fraud and malicious acts, new measures have been put in place to deal with Covid-19, which can be usefully integrated into existing security systems.

A global apprehension of an increased food safety therefore requires an adaptation of the food sector throughout the value chain, from raw materials to transport including processing and packaging. For this reason, it is desirable to strengthen quality systems throughout the food chain via sustainable rules and behaviours to ensure even better safety and quality.

Finally, this crisis has strengthened consumers' desire to consume local products that respect the environment and ecosystems (food sustainability). This emerging subject is going to become a major challenge for the food industry and large-scale retail.

And that’s a good thing, this health crisis could contribute to the massive development of a real safety culture in its three dimensions (security, safety and sustainability). This will lead to increased confidence among consumers, partners and competent authorities, which, combined with responsible behaviour in regards with environmental challenges, will strengthen companies throughout the food chain. In a few months' time, we will hopefully be able to consider that the violence of this crisis will have made it possible to achieve sustainable progress.

Philippe Sans


Published in June 20, 2020 on L'Usine Nouvelle
Mérieux NutriSciences China

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