The Food Standards Agency is seeking to reduce the occurrence of mycotoxins in the food chain and thereby the number and severity of food incidents by strengthening the roles of both industry and enforcement authorities.
Partnerships help to achieve commonly agreed goals. However, success depends on a number of factors being present, such as commitment, shared goals and the effective representation.
The project objectives were to evaluate the potential for a mycotoxin partnership between industry and enforcing authorities and scope out the role, composition and aims of such a partnership. Specific mycotoxin issues were identified and then used to produce a partnership plan. Earned recognition themes were also investigated.
Research Approach: There were two main stages in this piece of work; the first stage involved consulting key stakeholders within the food industry (trade associations) to explore the potential benefits of partnership. The second stage involved consulting the same stakeholders and a sample of businesses to explore mycotoxin risk management and what form mycotoxins partnership might take. <P>The potential for partnership was investigated in the following six sectors of the food industry:
<LI> Cereal and cereal products
<LI> Nuts and dried fruit
<LI> Drinks and beverages
<LI> Infant and dietetic
Results and findings: The project concluded that the pre-conditions of partnership working existed in each of the aforementioned sectors. Industry as a whole recognises the risk posed by mycotoxins and would welcome support on the management of mycotoxin risks. <P>
There are aspects of mycotoxin risk management that could benefit from further development in most sectors, and potentially from a partnership model. In particular, the following issues could be addressed through such a model:
Support for small retailers in the UK
Improve mycotoxin management in point of origin countries for spices, nuts and dried fruit
Work with cereal and grain sector on issues such as recognising and responding to crisis
esearch and development of technological solutions to common safety issues<P>
The recommendations that resulted from this project will be taken into consideration when planning future work specifically with regards to emerging risks and horizon scanning.
<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.