Empowering Global Food Safety

Date:15 Jan 2015
Time:Hong Kong

PolyU steps up collaborative efforts in empowering global food safety

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) organized the Empowering Global Food Safety, a full-day seminar-workshop series on technology development, to discuss the latest challenges and best practices in safeguarding public food health on 15 January 2015. It was jointly hosted by PolyU’s Innovation and Technology Development Office (ITDO) and the Food Safety and Technology Research Centre (FSTRC). With an attendance of over 150 members from the academia, industry, and government bodies, PolyU announced the conception of The Food Safety Consortium (FSC) as a new initiative in addressing the needs of the food industry.

Professor Jørgen Schlundt, Professor at the Technical University of Denmark and former Director for Department of Food Safety and Zoonoses at the World Health Organization (WHO), was invited to deliver a public lecture on the most imminent food safety threats and the prioritization of tackling such threats with new global initiatives, the optimization of risk assessments, and efficient farm-to-fork (one health) solutions.       

Managing food safety is largely dependent on science. As Professor Schlundt said, 'We have witnessed significant improvements on food safety over the past few decades and now we need to comprehensively evaluate our food-borne disease burdens and the technologies required to alleviate such burdens. We endeavour to prevent outbreaks proactively rather than adopting a reactive approach. Fostering robust research-industry collaboration is the key.”

To tackle such close-to-home issue, “It is important for research experts and the industry to join hands in ensuring food safety”, said Professor Wing-tak Wong, Chair Professor of Chemical Technology, Head of Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology (ABCT) and FSTRC Director. In view of this, PolyU initiated the Food Safety Consortium which is set out with the vision to assist the industry and the community to tackle food safety issues. As Professor Terence Lau, Director of Innovation and Development and Convener of the FSC, put it, “We aspire to create a network engaging all stakeholders, fortify it with PolyU’s well-established applied technology portfolio, and enhance our capability in food safety through synergistic academic-industrial collaborations.”

The seminar was then followed by a Networking Luncheon where PolyU’s Vice President (Research Development) Professor Alexander Wai bestowed the appointments of Professor Schlundt, Professor John Siu-lun Tam (retired Scientist at WHO, Visiting Professor at ABCT), and Professor Yuk-lam Lo (Honorary President of Hong Kong Food Safety Association) as the Advisors to the FSC, witnessed by Dr. Gloria Tam, Controller of the Centre for Food Safety of the HKSAR Government, and Ms Pamela Lam, Assistant Commissioner (Policy and Development) for Innovation and Technology of the HKSAR Government. Addressed at the luncheon, Professor Wai said, “Further to the on-going research and development conducted by PolyU’s FSTRC, we are very excited to bring in new expertise to advise us on the FSC’s development and be steps closer to solving today’s most imminent food safety threats.”

The Industry Technology Needs Assessment Workshop and Roundtable Discussion held in the afternoon involved initiative sharing from Professor Schlundt and ABCT food safety experts; representatives of The Coca-Cola Company, Nestle, and CMA Testing and Certification Laboratories further spoke on the latest industry needs in the field.  The workshop was adjourned with an engaging discussion on the concerns in advancing food safety from a collaborating perspective.

With the concerted efforts of all food safety stakeholders, the event kicked off a series of milestones contributing to the sustainable development of the FSC, a unique PolyU food safety technology exchange platform with the ultimate goal of benefiting public food health. Please get in touch with us for any comments or initiatives on advancing food safety for Hong Kong, the region and the globe by sending an e-mail to foodsafety@polyu.edu.hk.

For more details about the event, please refer to the full report.