Climate change and food safety



Climate change poses significant challenges to global food safety. Long-term changes in temperature, humidity, rainfall patterns and the frequency of extreme weather events are already affecting farming practices, crop production and the nutritional quality of food crops.


The sensitivity of germs, potentially toxin-producing microorganisms and other pests to climate factors suggests that climate change has the potential of affecting the occurrence and intensity of some foodborne diseases. Also, changing conditions may favour the establishment of invasive alien species harmful to plant and animal health. Surface seawater warming and increased nutrients input leads to the profusion of toxin-producing algae causing outbreaks of seafood contamination.


Global efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions and regional measures to mitigate and adapt to changing climatic conditions will impact on EFSA’s assessments of food and feed safety in relation to human health and nutrition, animal and plant health, and the environment.


Following the 2019 Climate Summit, EFSA published a new page on its website to highlight areas of its work where climate change is contributing to the emergence of new hazards or the spread of existing ones. It also describes an EFSA project that aims to develop methods and tools to identify and define emerging risks for food and feed safety, plant and animal health and nutritional quality related to climate change.






2018 EFSA launches its CLEFSA project (climate change as a driver of emerging risks for food and feed safety, plant, animal health and nutritional quality) and runs a climate change survey to gather insights on emerging issues potentially affected by climate change.


2018 EFSA supports the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) and the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO) to organise a conference on “The impact of global change on the emergence of plant diseases and pests in Europe”.


2017 EFSA’s Executive Director Bernhard Url premieres EFSA video on mycotoxins and climate change at an International Conference in Rome and launches a project on mycotoxin mixtures in food and feed, including the study of the influence of climate change on mycotoxin production.


2016 European scientists join forces to fight ciguatoxin food poisoning outbreaks in Spain and Portugal.


2014 Climate change is identified as driver of the spread of apple snails in south European wetlands.


2013 EFSA assesses risks posed by viruses transmitted to plants by the silverleaf whitefly, under current conditions and a climate change scenario of +2°C.


2012 EFSA supports development of a tool for predicting the production and spread of aflatoxins in maize, wheat and rice under different climate change scenarios.


2011 EFSA holds a scientific colloquium on emerging risks in plant health focusing on “plant pest interactions to global change”.


2008 Joint EFSA-FAO-WHO Europe seminar on climate change and its health impacts on food/water safety and nutrition.




Source:   EFSA



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