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The food supply chain is a complex and diverse system. Some food products need minimum processing to reach the consumers, while others involve several different processes, countries and suppliers, can take several months to be on the table of the end consumer. Regarding food safety, the public health of consumers is at stake and the consequences of outbreaks could prove disastrous. This has been recognized as a matter of global importance for the food industry and authorities around the world since several efforts to improve quality, safety and trade of food have arisen since the early 1960s. The birth of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a joint organism lead by the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization, marks a milestone, creating the first organization dedicated to proposing international food safety standards and to foster fair global food trade.
All these organizations agree that the use of solid scientific evidence in the decision making process is the cornerstone in creating a safe global food supply chain. Although there is widespread consensus about this, developing countries usually encounter heavy difficulties in accomplishing these objectives due to obstacles such as low funding to sample their food products, a weak regulatory system, insufficient technology and scientific capabilities. Therefore, addressing the question “how can we provide tools for these countries to strengthen their capacities to create scientific evidence based regulations with the consideration of these limitations?” is in great need. In this project two case studies were used to show that risk assessment, in conjunction with the use of research synthesis methodologies, are two approaches that can be used by the food industry and governments to provide effective scientific insights into their respective decision making processes. The focus of this research project is food safety in Chile, thus the analysis, results and overall direction will be narrowed to the perspective of this developing country.
Advisors: Bing Wang and John Rupnow