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HorizonScan helps spot food safety risks before they affect consumers, Global ID exec says

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: iStock
Source: iStock

Related tags Foodborne illness

Food safety incidents, including contamination of food-borne illnesses, mold and adulteration, increased double-digits in several major food categories in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the prior year, according to data pulled from the global web-based information system HorizonScan, which is now launching in North America. 

Nuts, nut products and seeds saw the largest increase in food integrity issues in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the same time in 2015 at 40.4%, according to the HorizonScan data. Coming in a distant, but still high second, were herbs and spices which saw a 26.6% increase in incidents.

The information system also tracked a 12.8% increase in food safety incidents in poultry and poultry products, a 13.3% increase in incidence in seafood and a 0.8% increase in meat and meat products over the course the year.

The only category that saw improvement was fruits and vegetables, the safety issues for which fell 32.8% in the year, HorizonScan reveals.

A closer look in the nut and seed category shows that 43% of the incidents were related to pistachios and linked to aflatoxins or Salmonella, while paan leaves (betel) was the top problem with herbs and spices category, accounting for 24.4% of incidents in the segment, according to HorizonScan data.

Spotting risks before they are problems

These incidents, and the risks they pose to consumer safety and brand integrity, were identified by pooling detailed reports from more than 70 national inspection agencies involving more than 490 commodities from 180 countries and organizing them into HorizonScan, which is an easily searchable database, created by UK-based Fera Science.

While the database has been available in Europe for several years, Global ID recently secured exclusive rights to launch it in North America at the upcoming IFT show in Chicago July 16-19.

What sets HorizonScan apart from competition

“In searching the competition, I have not been able to find anything that comes close to providing the type or quantify of data offered by HorizonScan,”​ Ron Stakland, Global ID’s Vice President of Business Development and Product Manager for HorizonScan, told FoodNavigator-USA.

He added HorizonScan is unique in part because it is updated daily, which means about 30 new incident reports are added to the database each day for a total of more than 63,000 incident reports and 15 years of archival data as of July 2016.

“The database has been designed to be searchable by any of several parameters, giving food safety managers a way to zero in on particular commodities/ingredients, or countries of origin, type of contamination, etc. and get a better sense of what type of problems are occurring around the world, and to design preventive controls (to use FSMA lingo) aimed at making sure the problem gets handled long before it can affect consumers,”​ he said.

Spotting risks before they become problems also will help companies protect their brand’s reputation, Global ID notes in a release.

Global ID’s subsidiary CERT ID Solutions will showcase HorizonScan at IFT in Chicago July 16-19 at booth #1506, and experts will be available to answer questions about its potential value, Stakland said. 

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