New report shows incidents almost doubled for global food safety network in 2021

The International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) was involved in 64 incidents in the final quarter of 2021, bringing the total for the year to nearly double that of 2020.

This figure is similar to the 65 notices from July to September, 63 from April to June and 56 in the first quarter of this past year. Overall, the network was part of 248 events in 2021, compared to 127 in 2020 and 84 in 2019.

From October to December 2021, 33 alerts involved a biological hazard with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes tied at 10 each.

E. coli was responsible for three while others were caused by Bacillus cereus, Hepatitis A virus, Vibrio, Clostridium botulinum, Staphylococcus aureus and Shigella sonnei.

The network is managed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Other hazards and food types
Eighteen of 64 events mentioned an undeclared allergen or ingredient and six involved a physical hazard such as glass and plastic.

Another six featured a chemical hazard like methanol, acrylamide, amygdaline, histamine and patulin.

Fish and other seafood; meat and meat products; snacks, desserts, and other foods and nuts and oilseeds all caused eight incidents each.

Other food categories involved included vegetables and vegetable products; herbs, spices and condiments; milk and dairy products; sugar and confectionery products; cereals and cereal based products; alcoholic beverages; fruit and fruit products; and products for special nutritional use.

Increasing engagement
Almost half of the incidents were reported by INFOSAN members, 42 percent through the European Commission’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), and 9 percent via other WHO channels.

In October, INFOSAN supported two initiatives in the WHO South-East Asia region to strengthen the network and food safety emergency response.

Another three events were held in November and December to boost INFOSAN in Africa, Asia and the Americas, discuss national foodborne disease surveillance data and current challenges.

In November, training was held on the use of risk analysis in response to food safety emergencies in the Western Balkans.

A workshop in Albania featured presentations from the WHO Regional Office for Europe, INFOSAN, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL), and DG Sante of the European Commission.

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