The ability to mitigate the risk of food safety and quality incidents is a key driver in all agri-food sectors. Agri-food sectors continue to be impacted by food safety and quality incidents which have cost lives and negatively impacted the health of consumers and profitability of those industries with farmers indicating losses in the millions. The key to managing food safety and quality is to understand where and how contamination occurs through chain, including processing, so that interventions can be implemented within an agri-food value chain to minimise such contamination.
The current information used to inform food safety and quality management for many agri-food products is based on traditional culture based microbiological testing of a very limited number of bacterial species including Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria, and Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli. The application of ‘omics’ technologies such as metagenomics, proteomics and metabolomics are rapidly transforming approaches to detection, prevention, tracking and treatment of foodborne pathogens, antimicrobial resistance and spoilage organisms. The future for food risk assessment will require a complete understanding of ‘who’ is there, ‘what’ they can do, and ‘what’ effect they are having at all stages of the agri-food value chain.