New categorization of food alerts will help develop effective strategies to prevent the food chain from being compromised – ScienceDaily

Researchers at the University of Surrey have developed a comprehensive new categorization of food fears, a new study in the British Food Journal reports.

The food business is now a global market with products sourced from all over the world to meet growing consumer demand for a variety of food products regardless of seasonality. Responding to these demands has led to the creation of complex food supply chains that have limited traceability and accountability mechanisms, increasing the likelihood of food crises.

The researchers in this study found that there was no single, comprehensive, and usable categorization of food alerts. Such categorizations are useful in developing strategies to reduce the frequency and severity of fears. However, those that did exist were considered too simplistic because they did not allow categorization of factors that could compromise the food chain.

To bring clarity and consistency to the sector, researchers at the University of Surrey worked with industry experts to develop a new categorization system. Unlike previous systems, this new categorization structure makes it possible to classify a food alert according to both its physical manifestation (chemical / physical or biological contamination) and the origin of the alert (willful deception and / or problems of transparency and awareness).

By highlighting where and how the nature of the different types of food fears overlap, this classification will allow risk management teams to systematically address the categories of potential fears and develop effective strategies to avoid future occurrences.

Report co-author Professor Angela Druckman of the University of Surrey said: “With food crises becoming more frequent, it is important that we have a categorization system in place that can effectively develop strategies for dealing with such compromises on our food supply. “

Dr Elizabeth Whitworth of RSK ADAS, formerly of the University of Surrey, said: “The main feature of the new categorization is that it distinguishes between fears caused by willful deception and those caused by problems. transparency and awareness.

During the study, the researchers also found that the current definitions of the term “food fear” were inadequate because they failed to recognize consumers’ lack of confidence in the food chain. The researchers pointed to the 2013 horse meat scandal, which, while not harmful to human consumption, created mistrust among consumers in the food and supply chain.

This is why a new definition of a food alert has been developed:

“A food alert is the response to a food incident (real or perceived) that causes a sudden disruption in the food supply chain and food consumption patterns. “

This recommended new definition recognizes that it is consumers’ response to their purchasing decisions that elevates a food incident to a food alert.

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Material provided by University of Surrey. Note: Content can be changed for style and length.

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