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Hegarty speaks of unfinished business

Several more food safety issues need to be addressed, says expert.

| | Mar 12, 2012 | 6:33 pm
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Several more food safety issues need to be addressed, says expert. By B Surendar

Vincent Hegarty gave the closing speech of DIFSC 2012 at Al Mutaqa Hall and, in the process, offered the audience much to reflect upon.

Mr Hegarty said that the food industry had much to ponder over and that there was quite a bit of unfinished business. “Some people do lose their lives, because we are not doing our job appropriately to ensure food safety,” he said. “All of us, irrespective of which country we come from, have a lot of work to do.”

Mr Hegarty itemised several areas that needed to be addressed. He spoke of how the presence of arsenic in various foods was a matter of grave concern. He pointed to the examples of arsenic in apple and grape juice, rice and chicken meat. He also spoke of Bisphenol A (BPA). He was quick to add, however, that the debate still raged on whether it was safe or unsafe, with the French declaring it unsafe and banning it.

Mr Hegarty also included food control materials (substances) in his list of ‘unfinished business’ issues. “We need to look at what kind of package we put our food into,” he said. “We take care of food safety in manufacturing, processing and handling, but what about packaging?”

Another issue, Mr Hegarty said, was the application of nano-technology in the food and agriculture sectors. This, he added, had potential food safety implications.

Mr Hegarty identified street-vended foods and food fraud as other items under ‘unfinished business’. He said that food fraud posed a greater public health risk than traditional safety threats. “There are near infinite possibilities for food fraud,” he said. “We need an interdisciplinary approach to overcome the challenge.”

Antimicrobial resistance, Mr Hegarty said, was another issue of concern, as was country of origin and traceability.

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