3D food printing among four challenges of tomorrow

By Alice Foster contact

- Last updated on GMT

FSA’s head emerging risks Terry Donohoe at the conference in London on September 14
FSA’s head emerging risks Terry Donohoe at the conference in London on September 14

Related tags: Food standards agency

3D food printing presents one of the top four food safety challenges of tomorrow, according to the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The novel form of food production joined insects as food, climate change and big data tools on a list given by the FSA’s head emerging risks Terry Donohoe at a conference in London yesterday (September 14).

Donohoe worried about consumers starting to use 3D printers, which he described as highly complex pieces of equipment that could take in substrates, or ingredients, and “squash out” ​food. 

“There’s huge opportunity in that. But given that we can’t get people to cook chicken in a safe manner…there are some risks there,” ​he said.  

‘Individual, personalised nutrition’

Four challenges of tomorrow

  • 3D printing
  • Insects as food
  • Climate change
  • Big data

“This technology could be developed to the stage that you have individual, personalised nutrition.

"You buy a range of substrates for your particular health, age, athletic needs and your 3D printer will print that for you​.”  

The development of insects as food was mentioned as another emerging area that provided both opportunities and potential problems for the food industry.

In itself, it [eating insects] is not necessarily risky. But there are potential risks associated with allergenicity,sustainability and chemical contamination,” he said.  ​   

Climate change also has an impact on food safety topics via the spread of animal and marine disease, he said.

For example, a recent research paper found that mussels from the English Channel contained a deadly toxin carried by pufferfish, which were usually found in tropical oceans.

Donohoe said more research was needed to establish the significance of the finding and its causes. 

Changes in the environment

“Why is it there? Was it there previously and we didn’t see it? Was it a new test? Or is it indicative of a change in environment?”​ he asked.

Big data covering food safety matters could also be open to misinterpretation as algorithms and testing methodologies become more advanced. 

Donohoe said: “We are developing more ability to link big data sets. The big challenge from that is drawing the right conclusions from these data sets once we have got them.”

Speaking after his presentation, Donohoe told FoodManufacture.co.uk that new technology presented opportunities as well as potential risks.

Asked about ‘threats’​ from a manufacturing perspective, he said: “I’m not talking about emerging threats, we’re talking about issues.”

Donohoe was one of the speakers at a product liability and recall seminar hosted by law firm Clyde and Co at its offices in London yesterday.

Meanwhile, don’t miss the Food Manufacture Group’s one-day innovation conference – New Frontiers in Food and Drink – which will take place at etc.venues, St Pauls, London on March 17 2016.

Click here​ for more details.

3D printing risks

“Given that we can’t get people to cook chicken in a safe manner…there are some risks there.”

  • Terry Donohoe, head of emerging risks at the Food Standards Agency (FSA)  

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