EUROPE – In a recent technical report, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has revealed the identification of eight emerging food risks, shedding light on potential threats to Europe’s food safety.

These findings are the result of collaborative efforts involving the Emerging Risks Exchange Network (EREN), the Stakeholder Discussion Group on Emerging Risks, and various scientific units within EFSA.

Out of the 18 potential emerging issues discussed in 2021, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has identified eight as emerging risks, each presenting unique challenges to food safety.

Among these, a novel ovine pest virus closely related to classical swine fever virus has been discovered in Italian sheep, raising concerns about its potential impact on livestock and the food supply chain.

Vitamin D overdosing has also emerged as a significant issue, with several cases of severe hypercalcaemia in infants linked to varying concentrations of the vitamin in food supplements across Europe.

Italy has reported the first detection of West Caucasian Lyssavirus, posing a potential threat to both humans and animals.

Meanwhile, the enigmatic Shiga Toxin-Producing E. albertii (STEA) has raised questions about its natural reservoir and transmission dynamics.

Coconut oil is also under scrutiny for possible health risks, including its impact on LDL-cholesterol levels and insulin resistance.

Moreover, according to the report, decreased use of pesticides and fertilizers on crops presents potential risks to food quality and safety due to increased presence of harmful organisms.

Brevetoxins found in French shellfish are also causing neurotoxic shellfish poisoning concerns. The toxins have been a puzzle since their discovery in 2018.

These marine biotoxins, responsible for neurotoxic shellfish poisoning, are produced by various microalgae, including Karenia brevis.

France and Europe currently lack regulations for brevetoxins, making the proposed guidance level of 180 micrograms per kilogram of shellfish meat crucial for public safety.

Lastly, Mycoplasma bovis infections in Belgium are being closely monitored for their potential impact on cattle health and the food supply chain.

Global collaboration for food safety

EFSA’s efforts are not limited to Europe alone. The report also lists 35 potential emerging issues brought forth by EREN members, including representatives from international bodies such as the World Health Organization, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

These global concerns encompass a wide range of topics, from crocodile meat consumption to the presence of synthetic cannabinoids in food, underlining the importance of international cooperation in safeguarding the world’s food supply.

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