The FSA faces particular challenges associated with official controls in meat establishments (also known as abattoirs or slaughterhouses). Many meat-borne pathogens are not detectable by the human eye, and therefore current meat inspection practises are not able to identify them. This problem is exacerbated by large numbers of animals being slaughtered, rapid line speeds, and small profit margins.
The Agrifood workshop investigated technological solutions to challenges in agriculture and food production, divided into two streams.
- The Broad Stream considered challenges posed by all types of food.
- The Meat Stream focussed on the challenges posed in official controls in meat establishments.
The workshop brought together forty experts from disciplines such as astrophysics, food technology, veterinary science, data science, and microbiology. The purposes of the meeting were:
- to identify challenges;
- to identify potential solutions; and;
- to recommend areas for further work.
The workshop was organised and funded by Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and held at STFC’s Harwell Campus on the 21st and 22nd January 2016.
The workshop identified technology and expertise that could be applied to the area of food production. Also the workshop identified that there were opportunities for communities to work together to address both current issues in supply chains and to look at building a more resilient food processing chain not just for now but also for the future.
The workshop report and this summary document form a good base, which will both inform organisational policy and enable decisions to be made when identifying future opportunities in this area.
The workshop has already been helpful in the development of thinking and subsequent STFC funding call for the STFC Food Network+.