The demand for safe food
A recurring theme throughout the IFAJ 2007 congress has been our host nation’s focus on safe food. Food safety is one of the main pillars of Japanese agriculture, largely in response to the concern of the country’s consumers.
Several food safety-related scares in recent years have greatly influenced the agri-food industry’s focus on producing safe food:
• Outbreaks of e.coli 0157:H7 (since 1996)
• BSE in Japan (2001)
• BSE in the United States (2004)
• Quality concerns over imported foods, particularly from China
Many different programs and initiatives are underway to allay consumer worries over food safety. For example, a mandatory cattle traceability program assigns each animal a ten digit identification number. This number follows the animal straight through to the supermarket. A consumer can take that number off a package of meat and look up on the Internet exactly where that animal was born, raised and slaughtered.
Increased environmental awareness is also putting a growing emphasis on “safe production”.