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Cathrine Terro at the International Symposium on Food Safety and Control

By Cathrine Terro.

The International Symposium on Food Safety and Control, themed "Safe Food for a Better Life," was a landmark event in the global food safety calendar. Held from May 27 to May 31, 2024, at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Headquarters in Vienna, Austria, the symposium was a collaborative effort organized by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the IAEA.

I had the incredible honor and pleasure of presenting my research on food authenticity and being on the panel at this event with chair and co-chair Chris Elliott and Michelle Lees curating such engaging and insightful sessions. During my presentation, I delved into the advanced methodologies used to ensure the traceability and authenticity of saffron, focusing on the integration of stable isotopes, elemental analysis, and comprehensive databases as part of the session on Food Authenticity and Fighting Food Fraud.

Over these five days, the event convened experts, policymakers, and stakeholders to address pressing issues in food safety and explore innovative technologies and strategies to ensure safe food for all.

The course was meticulously designed to cater to a diverse audience, including researchers, data managers, and IT professionals engaged in data management, particularly within the realm of chemical risk assessment. The sessions were structured to provide a blend of theoretical knowledge and practical application, ensuring that attendees could translate what they learned into actionable strategies in their own work.

Throughout the three days, participants delved into a comprehensive curriculum covering a wide array of topics. The first day set the stage with an introduction to FAIR principles and data management for Human Biomonitoring (HBM) and environmental data. These sessions provided foundational knowledge and real-world examples, helping attendees understand how to apply these principles to their own datasets. The second day focused on geospatial data extraction and the implementation of FAIR principles through FAIR Implementation Profiles (FIPs). This day also featured hands-on training sessions, offering practical experience in data extraction and management techniques.

Detailed Session Insights and Key Highlights

The symposium's agenda successfully covered a broad spectrum of topics related to food safety and provided a platform for in-depth sessions and technical discussions.

Day 1: Monday, May 27, 2024
The symposium began with the opening session. Welcome remarks and keynote speeches from the Directors General of the IAEA and FAO opened the event. A technical session on chemical residues and contaminants in food and feed highlighted advances in monitoring and testing these substances. The day also featured a vibrant poster session and a welcome reception, which provided ample networking opportunities for attendees.

Day 2: Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Public-private partnerships and the food industry's role in ensuring food safety were the focus on the second day. Highlights included the introduction of the new FAO-IAEA-UNIDO Tripartite Food Safety Programme aimed at improving food safety in Africa. Another significant session discussed preparing for and responding to emergencies affecting the food supply. The day's events concluded with side events on Women in Nuclear and exhibitor presentations, emphasizing gender equality and technological advancements in the field.

Day 3: Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The focus on Wednesday was on food and phytosanitary irradiation, a critical method for ensuring food safety and extending shelf life. Experts presented their research on the effects of irradiation on various food products and discussed the harmonization of phytosanitary treatments. Afternoon sessions, where I had the opportunity to present, addressed the growing concern of food authenticity and combating food fraud. My research detailed innovative approaches to ensure that food products are genuine and safe for consumers, an increasingly vital area in today's interconnected world.

Thursday, May 30, 2024:
The focus shifts to discussions on standard setting, regulations, metrology and risk assessment highlighting the importance of international standards in safeguarding food quality and consumer health. Presentations underscored the role of metrology and analytical methods in detecting contaminants and ensuring compliance with safety regulations. A significant focus was also placed on the detection and characterization of pathogens in food, including the threat posed by antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Friday, May 31, 2024
On the final day, the symposium underscored a One Health approach, which recognizes the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health. Sessions explored how this holistic perspective could enhance food safety and address complex challenges posed by zoonotic diseases and environmental contaminants. Experts presented case studies and research on managing antimicrobial resistance and monitoring contaminants across various food systems.

Networking and Collaboration
The symposium provided numerous opportunities for networking and collaboration. Throughout the week, poster sessions showcased the latest research and innovations in food safety. Attendees engaged with global experts, shared insights, and built partnerships aimed at driving future advancements in food safety.

Conclusion and Future Directions

As the symposium concluded, participants summarized key findings and recommendations from the week's discussions. The closing session featured remarks from leaders of the IAEA and FAO, emphasizing the importance of ongoing international cooperation in ensuring safe and nutritious food for all. The event highlighted the critical role of food safety in public health and economic development, inspiring ongoing efforts to innovate and collaborate within the global food safety community. The International Symposium on Food Safety and Control successfully brought together the world’s leading experts and practitioners, aiming to establish a safer future for our food supply.

Link for my presentation:

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