The S4F Platform
The large number of reported cases of foodborne illnesses and infections, recorded worldwide in recent years, has publicly raised the issues of prevention and control over the healthiness and the organoleptic and microbiological quality of food products available on the international market. The substantial socio-economic impact generated by these episodes on the affected nations and markets has rapidly convinced governments and stakeholders to address the topic of global food safety as a major priority.
The system model, consolidated by the S4F platform, andaligning with the inspirational theme of EXPO Milano 2015 Feeding the Planet. Energy for Life,can play a significant role in this context leaving a lasting contribution,in terms of food safety,to people worldwide.
S4F aims at creating a virtuous system consisting of the interaction of international scientific community, companies, national and international agencies, consumers associations and all involved stakeholders.
The Platform, through the creation of a global database on food safety, represents the strategic value of "information” deriving from all the heterogeneous issues connected to food. The introduction of a single service Platform based on a shared common knowledge represents the infrastructural key and the information assets of the project.
The globalization of food production and distributionhas produced a rapid contraction of the distance among countries stimulating international transactions, exchanges and trades. In turn, it has generated a broad set of challenges related to origin, quality and safety of goods and products, especially within the food industry, where these elements may represent potential sources of severe health risks, huge economic losses and global damages.
The control system for food safety is based, at global level, on a model of free collaboration among countries, but it is not internationally governed by a specific Authority supported by a shared knowledge base. However, some international organizations have partially,and indirectly,intervened on aspects related to this phenomenon: the World Health Organization (WHO)on healthrelated matters; Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on food security and safety standards, and World Trade Organization (WTO) on safeguarding phytosanitary measures(SPS - Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures)
Significant is the role played by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, established by FAO and WHO in 1963, that develops harmonised international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice to protect the health of the consumers and ensure fair practices in the food trade. The Codex standards are based on the best available science provided by independent international risk assessment bodies managed by FAO and WHO representing a point of reference in international food trade.
Although existing international network connected to food safety, such as INFOSAN (International Food Safety Authorities Network global network of national food safety authorities, managed jointly by FAO and WHO) and early warning systems, such as GLEWS (Global Early Warning System, a joint system combining and coordinating alert mechanisms of FAO, WHO, and World Organization for Animal Health- OIE) and RASFF under EFSA, at European level, are particularly effective in identifying suspected cases and circulating information, nevertheless they are still not adequately integrated and interconnected, due to a lack of common standards, and a limited range of action compared to the global scope of food safety, especially in relation to the growing need for real-time detection of foodrelated diseases and emerging of foodborne outbreaks.
Food safety is a complex discipline that involves not onlyfood production and distribution, but also the compliance with different legal rules and orders.
With this regard, the circulation of information is essential to guarantee a comprehensive and integrated monitoring system able to avoidpotentially hazardous for human health.
S4F promotes the creation of anew governance model for food safety, based on internationally shared common scientific parameters and legal rules, in order to mitigate the effects of food globalization production and processing, in order to favorite a better and safe food supply at global level. The final goal is the elaboration of an international legal instrument on food safety to be adopted by all countries worldwide.
In order to stimulate the international debate on food safety, the Platform operates on the adoption of cloud computing technology, which can ensure different deployment models: private cloud, public cloud or hybrid cloud. These features allow to fulfill exigencies to share data and information with international network (INFOSAN) as well as report systems (GLEWS, RASSF), and to manage sensitive and confidential data.
Safety for Food deals with scientific and legal aspectsof food safety considered as a whole. With regard to the scientific frameworkof the project, the Scientific Working Group (SWG), coordinated by the Institute of Food Science (ISA - CNR), jointly to the Department of Biology, Agriculture and Food Sciences (DiSBA-CNR) has launched a survey on selected topics to be explored by broader consultation among experts at international level about emerging issues connected to food safety. With regard to the legal area, the Legal Working Group (LWG) ,coordinated by the Institute for International Legal Studies (ISGI-CNR), jointly to the Department of Biology, Agriculture and Food Sciences (DiSBA-CNR) and in cooperation with other partners, has identified as a priority area of research and discussion selecting sometopics of first consideration forimportant legal, ethics and scientific implications.