ACMSF Horizon Scanning workshop 2023

Horizon Scanning 2023

Last updated: 16 January 2024

Changes in methods of food production and new food technologies

Direct challenges from climate change:


Possible actions

Novel Foods

1.    The novel foods sector is growing rapidly, which has in part been driven by a sustainability agenda triggered by increased awareness of climate change as well as, in the UK, by factors such as EU Exit. Novel foods such as alternative proteins may carry a lower risk of some hazards typically considered for meat, such as Salmonella or Campylobacter. However, it is not always clear what new or increased risk may be associated with such novel foods or novel processes. Robust processes for approval will mitigate this challenge, but novel foods approved in other regions by local competent authorities may be sold illegally and promoted via social media. Furthermore, new business entrants with less experience of safe food production may be less aware of safety measures they need to comply with.


The FSA should consider the following areas for generating evidence through commissioned research or reviews, formal risk assessment and/or review of risk management processes:

1.1 Ways to generate evidence to support microbiological risk assessment and associated regulatory guidance relating to novel food production processes e.g., cultured meat, insect protein, plant-based foods.

1.2 Take action to maintain and improve coordination between ACMSF and ACNFP to identify concerns about the microbiological safety of dossiers submitted for review relating to novel foods and processes.

1.3 Ensure that exposure data and hazard identification for novel foods and processes is considered and establish data on pathogen growth.

1.4 Consider the potential microbiological risk from plant-based products that are produced using contaminated plants.

1.5 Improve data capture during outbreaks to record food production processes, not just food type.


Manufacturer regulation

9.6 FSA should consider development of guidance for manufacturers on validation for new process, or reiteration of current guidance if already in place.


The FSA should consider supporting research and surveillance in the following areas:


9.7 Research into the survival and growth of pathogens on alternative proteins


9.8 Research into cooking times and consumer behaviour around cooking times, for example whether consumers will apply the same storage, preparation and cooking behaviours when using meat alternatives as they would for meat.

9.9 Research/epidemiological studies to identify any changes or new trends in contamination of novel products.


New Farming/Fertilisation Methods

10   Various changes in farming practices to cope with increasing challenges associated with climate change may affect the microbiological safety of food. For example, the increased use of biodigesters and resulting impact on microbiological safety of wastewater and fertilization. Similarly, the development of vertical farming may be of concern due to the closed loop nature of its operation and especially with the recycling of irrigation water (e.g., Listeria risk). Also, the impact on need, and availability, of artificial fertilizers is driving an increased use of natural fertilizers. This may result in more animal waste runoff on agricultural crops and water during flooding. The use of animal by-products for use in animal feeds is also a concern.


10.1       FSA should consider establishing strategic connections with OGDs to learn about proposed changes to wastewater treatment and commission work necessary to assess their impact on food safety.

10.2       The FSA should consider commissioning a hazard profile for indoor and vertical farming systems to identify recommendations for proactive testing.

10.3       The FSA should consider organising or supporting a stakeholder exercise to map practices in new methods of farming