Expert interviews

The role of food safety laboratories in making the future of food safety a team effort.

Expert point of view Bob Brackett.jpeg

The role of food safety laboratories in making the future of food safety a team effort. 

A trending topic within the food industry is how future technologies will shape the role that food safety laboratories play when it comes to food safety.

Dr. Robert E. Brackett sheds some light onto how food safety will become a collaborative effort between private companies, the government and educational institutions. He believes that not only would this teamwork create more effective food systems, it would also help to reduce the risk of food-born illnesses. One way to begin this could involve the use of blockchain technologies to track and analyse results across the entire supply chain.

Based in Chicago, the Illinois Institute of Technology, also known as Illinois Tech, is a private, technology-focused, research university offering since 1940 undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, science, architecture, business, design, human sciences, applied technology, and law.

The Institute for Food Safety and Health is a food science consortium comprised of the Illinois Institute of Technology and the US Food and Drug Administration. It provides food safety stakeholders with the opportunity to exchange knowledge, experience and expertise in the area of food safety, food defence, food processing and nutrition.

Portrait of Robert E. Brackett

With a Ph.D. in Food Microbiology, Robert E. Brackett is an expert on food safety. He is the Vice President and Director at the Illinois Institute of Technology, as well as for the Institute for Food Safety and Health. His research includes microbiological food safety, the growth of pathogens in food, testing for food pathogens as well as the microbial ecology of plant-based products. He has numerous publications on these topics and is a member of the International Association for Food Protection.

How does food safety expert Robert Brackett view the future of food safety?

As an expert on food safety and the Director for the Institute for Food Safety and Health, Dr. Robert Brackett believes that, “the food of food safety is a team effort.” Food safety laboratories play a primary role in the food supply chain because food safety is a topic that affects suppliers and customers around the globe, and these labs can act as the middleman. The food industry is facing a challenge in that food safety practices differ between various parties. This creates an inability to trade. The answer lies within a collaboration between private corporations, the government and educational institutions. This is where food safety laboratories could come into play, because they have the expertise to act as a knowledge messenger between these different institutions.

How will this teamwork support improvements to the food safety process?

Due to the challenge of these differing standards, bringing these entities closer together could help increase the chances for them to trade. Dr. Brackett emphasizes that “Food safety training for both regulators and the private sector” would help to facilitate the trading process.

Although this expertise may not be available locally, a cooperation between public and private corporations could help to get everyone onto the same page. Teamwork between these entities would encourage a food safety system that is consistent and more safe for consumers across the board, as well as improve its general efficiency.

How can new technologies such as blockchain can help this collaboration?

General microbial testing being integrated into the process can help reduce the risk of food-borne illness. Detection technologies are improving and will continue to add to precise and cost-effective tools that keep products safe. “Blockchain is one of the most exciting and talked about innovations at the moment,” states Dr. Brackett.

Blocking would allow for the automation of sampling, testing and analysing across the entire supply chain in a quicker, more precise and cost-effective manner. Nevertheless, blockchain users still need to be wary regarding cybersecurity issues. A food system controlled by technology could be more vulnerable to ransom and hacking threats.

As the Food Safety Laboratory is bound to become a profit center for the industry, new challenges emerge that request a joint answer from private companies, government and education institutions.

Robert Brackett
ITT Vice-President and Director at the Illinois Institute of Technology, & Institute for Food Safety and Health

The government, private companies and educational institutes should collaborate in order to create the best possible future for food safety and the food industry.

Blockchain technologies can help this teamwork by helping to automate the food supply chain and make testing faster, more precise and more efficient.

Biomérieux’s mission is to enhance the future of food safety

As one of the leading experts in providing microbiological testing systems primarily to the food and beverage industry, bioMérieux holds food safety as their utmost priority. bioMérieux have long focused on providing the most accurate and consistent pathogen detection technologies to their clients, in order for the consumers of these clients to feel safe for their consumption. As food safety technology changes, Biomérieux will focus on being at the forefront of helping create a food future that is more efficient and safer than ever before.

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