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When we think of the future of the food safety ecosystem, what kind of impact can we predict for science and its future applications? Which scientific insights and trends are moving the needle? How will scientific developments influence food safety on the ground and to what extent will they redesign the ecosystem as a whole? Conversely, what do you do when the science is lacking, and the facts are simply not available?

Food systems are recurrently and severely challenged by food safety issues, and this is likely to accelerate in the future, exacerbated by climate change and the pressures of an increasing global population on finite resources.

Only by having food businesses with safe, resilient supply chains can we hope to meet our responsibility to supply safe food. We believe that our decisions in the food supply chains today must ensure a sustainable future, and this can only be achieved if they are underpinned by robust science.

With this in mind, it’s hard to overstate how delighted I am that the newly formed Science and Technology Advisory Group (STAG) will be at the 2022 GFSI Conference to dive into these questions with the audience. In this session, members of the group will present findings from their first report, focusing on the value of science in food safety management.

As Chair of the STAG, I will have the honour of moderating the session. In fact, you may be a bit ahead of the game if you listened to my recent episode on the GFSI podcast – The Role of Science and Technology in Food Safety where I talk with host Linda Okpala about the importance of the academic community in ensuring safe food for people everywhere and what has motivated me to dedicate my career to food safety.

I will be joined on stage by STAG members Francisco Diez-Gonzalez, Professor and Director, Center for Food Safety, University of Georgia, USA; Jeffrey Farber, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Food Science at the University of Guelph, Ontario; Kaye Burgess, Senior Research Officer and Principal Investigator, Teagasc Food Research Centre – Food Safety Department, Ireland; Lise Korsten, co-Director of the DSI/NRF Centre of Excellence Food Security, University of Pretoria, South Africa and Robert Scharff, Professor and Consumer Sciences Graduate Studies Chair, Ohio State University, USA.

As a science-based organisation, GFSI founded the Science and Technology Advisory Group as a transparent mechanism to structure and strengthen the place attributed to science in every part of its activities. Since we officially launched the STAG in July 2021, the group has been hard at work on our mandate to provide GFSI with an expert independent outlook on any science and technology developments that may impact GFSI’s food safety activities.

We are committed to tackling the thorny questions and opportunities posed by the latest science and technology in the context of the challenges facing the world today to help businesses, and indeed all those interested in food safety, understand how to better fulfil the GFSI mission of safe food for people everywhere – a cornerstone of food security.

Upon my appointment as Chair, I recalled the advice of a much-respected former boss ringing in my ears – ‘Don’t screw it up’ he said. Wise words. We will look to create a wide-reaching and transparent network worthy of contributing to the challenge of achieving safe food for all.

Science will have a prominent place on the packed three-day programme at the 2022 GFSI Conference. To learn more, and connect with the global community, I invite you to come join me in Barcelona from 29th to 31st March. Be sure to reach out to me on the Conference app to connect in person – I’d love to meet you!

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