Among those challanges are the following:
• Rapid globalization of food trade has increased the potential of adulterated food to
negatively affect greater numbers of people worldwide, according to the most re-
cent report by the WHO Initiative to Estimate the Global Burden of Foodborne
Diseases. As the international food supply chain becomes more interconnected,
foodborne disease outbreaks that were once localized now have the potential to be-
come massive in scope.
• World market interdependence has increasingly exposed widely varying, and sometimes conflicting, national and international food safety laws, regulations and standards that create trade barriers that may not be based on adequate scientific
evidence. Differing food safety policies,
requirements or rules based on insufficient or contradictory science not only
reduce the effectiveness of public health
protection measures but can greatly reduce the availability of food that is actually safe to consume.
• National differences in food safety laws and rules also can create an uncertain
global regulatory environment that reduces investment in and adoption of new
technologies designed to improve food safety and quality for consumers.
These food safety and security challenges may seem insurmountable in a global cacophony of competing economic and political interests, but substantial progress in
food protection efforts is possible if food safety requirements developed by national
and international agencies can be harmonized. To do this, members of the international food science community have banded together to develop knowledge-based
accord from the discord that exists today in global food safety regulation.
sidebar, p. 52), which presents a comprehensive overview of existing differences
in regulations and their consequences,
and argues for use of sound science to
obtain global consensus for regulations.
The book serves as one of the initiative’s
primary educational outreach tools for
scientists around the world. Outreach is
also conducted through the GHI Ambassador Program, which is designed to
empower individual members to inform
and invite scientists in their nations or
regions to participate in the organiza-
tion’s consensus-building activities.
GHI’s working group format, which
serves as the mechanism for consensus-
building among scientists on global har-
monization of food safety regulations, is
the key to the initiative’s growth and
progress in the past few years. By organ-
izing member meetings, workshops and
symposia throughout the world, GHI
furthers the opportunity for collabora-
tive work among members and provides
educational outreach to key stakehold-
ers, In 2009 alone, GHI held working
group meetings in the U.S., The Nether-
lands, India, China, Czech Republic,
Hungary and Mexico. This year, work-
shops are planned for locations in
Turkey, South Africa and the U.S.,
among others. Indeed, the working
groups are the heart and soul of GHI.
“As the world beat of globalization maintains its fast empo, the challenges of ensuring food safety, security and nutrition on a global scale continue to grow in complexity.”
Composing a Movement for Change
Founded in 2004 as a joint activity of the U.S.-based Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) International Division and the European Federation of Food Science and
Technology (EFFoST), the Global Harmonization
Initiative (GHI) is a network of scientific organizations and individual scientists working together
to promote harmonization of global
food safety regulations and legislation.
Registered as a nonprofit association
headquartered in Vienna, Austria,
GHI is today supported by nearly two
dozen international scientific organizations, academic research institutes
and publishers (see sidebar, p. 34).
With this support, GHI facilitates
global discussion about the scientific issues that support decisions made by national
governments and international regulatory bodies by the following:
• Providing a foundation for sound, sensible, science-based food safety regulations;
• Creating a forum for scientists and technologists to interact with regulatory author-
ities on a global basis; and
• Offering industry, regulators, public health authorities and consumers an inde-
pendent, authoritative information resource.
GHI has established a number of ways in which scientists can make progress in developing strategies to find the shortest route to achieving global harmonization in concert with international public health and food safety authorities, including the WHO,
the FAO, the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). In November 2009, Academic Press/Elsevier published GHI’s first book, Ensuring Global Food Safety: Exploring Global Harmonization (see
Striking the Chord of Consensus
GHI’s consensus-building process is
conducted through a working group
(WG) structure in which individual scientists can share their expertise and
come to agreement on the scientific
principles that will support informed
global regulatory and legislative decision
making. GHI is committed to building a
WG forum that is accessible by food scientists worldwide to ensure that any consensus reached is broad-based and truly
representative of current scientific
knowledge from every continent. How-