Vienna Food Safety Forum 2022

“Data Driven Innovation in Food Safety”
3-5 October 2022
Vienna, Austria

Background

Global food systems have been facing unprecedented challenges from supply chain disruptions and economic slowdown through the global pandemic. Two years after the COVID-19 outbreak, food safety stakeholders aim to further optimize their operations using data and information and communication technology (ICT) solutions. Digitalization and data-driven innovations—like remote (virtual) audits and acceptance of digital certification—open the door for new opportunities to the food safety community to create more resource-efficient and robust practices based on evidence. Furthermore, the pandemic fast-tracked the adoption of digital solutions for alternative decision making by food regulators, businesses, food safety service providers, and academia. However, the extent to which these actors have seized this opportunity varies. 

New solutions also require significant changes in current practices and capacities, all which come with certain risks, but also presents opportunities. By sharing experiences using technology-driven innovations, regional bodies, industry, development sectors and academia will develop a better understanding of current digital trends in food safety. Such events also help these actors to benefit from these new opportunities to achieve better public health outcomes and facilitate enhanced trade. 

Participants will explore the following key questions:

  • How can new data-driven innovations improve food control and food safety management practices?
  • What role can public-private dialogue play in data-driven innovation?
  • What can we learn from existing experiences and challenges in using digital approaches and innovations to transform food safety practices?

Objective of the event 

This blended three-day event provides a platform for food safety stakeholders from the public and private sectors and academia to exchange experiences in their digital transformation of food safety practices. Accordingly, participants will gain insights and be able to discuss topics such as the electronic exchange of certification related to food trade, use of data generated by voluntary third-party assurance (vTPA) programmes, and remote audit and inspection practices.

Structure of the event 

The event will be structured around plenary sessions and networking breaks to maximise the benefits of face-to-face interactions among the participants. The plenary sessions will be streamed online and open for participation based on prior registration. Through the blended format, stakeholders who can participate in person, will also be allowed to participate in different networking sessions and discussions. Two and a half days of the forum would be structured around seven plenary sessions and four networking sessions. On the second part of the third day, regulators, Codex observers and other relevant partners engaged in the Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems (CCFICS) on ‘Proposed guidance on the use of remote audit and verification in regulatory frameworks’, will have the opportunity to share and informally discuss some of the work progressing through Codex.

Interpretation will be available in the following languages: English, French, and Spanish. 

Tentative agenda 

Day 1

TIME

ACTIVITY

9:00 – 10:00

Registration and morning coffee

10:00 – 11:00

Opening ceremony

11:00 – 11:30

Networking café

11:30 – 13:00

Plenary session I: Using the voluntary third-party assurance approach to improve food safety outcomes: What lessons exist?

This session will help to explore how different stakeholders collaborated and benefited from the vTPA approach and what are the essential elements, which need to be considered for its successful application.

Brief presentations to be followed by a panel discussion and audience Q&A.

13:00 – 14:30

Lunch break

14:30 – 16:00

Plenary session II: Sharing data for improved food safety decision-making: What is the role of public-private dialogue?

Participants will discuss how public-private dialogue can offer new opportunities for more structured and reliable data sharing. Initiatives, like the vTPA approach, can pave the way for more structured engagement among food safety stakeholders.

Panel discussion to be followed by audience Q&A. 

16:00 – 16:15

Concluding remarks of Day 1

From 16:30

Light reception –  “vin d'honneur”

Day 2

TIME

ACTIVITY

9:00 – 9:30

Morning coffee

10:00 – 11:30

Plenary session III: Establishing electronic exchange of health certificates and how it changes certification

The session aims at exploring how to progress an electronic exchange of certificates, and some of the considerations and changes that form part of the transition to paperless. Electronic exchange of health certificate provides multiple benefits from reducing control period through risks related to confiscation of goods to food fraud.

Panel discussion to be followed by audience Q&A.

11:30 – 13:00

Plenary session IV: Costs and benefits of remote audit and verification in regulatory frameworks

This session will highlight the costs and benefits of remote audit and verification practices based on the different experiences gathered by competent authorities.

Panel discussion to be followed by audience Q&A.

13:00 – 15:00

Lunch break

15:00 – 17:00

Plenary session V: Use of data and ICT in food safety for improved audit outcomes and regulatory enforcement functions

This session will focus on the different solutions offered data science and information and communication technology (ICT) applied for remote audit, inspection and verification practices. As a result, participants will have a better understanding on the applied technologies and what issues users have faced during their deployment.

Panel discussion to be followed by audience Q&A.

Day 3

Informal session to facilitate the exchange of views/experiences with remote audit and verification

TIME

ACTIVITY

9:00 – 10:00

Morning coffee

10:00 – 11:30

Plenary Session VI: Existing guides and tools for implementing remote practices in food safety control

The session will further explore current practices and tools developed by stakeholders to have better structured remote practices in food safety control and quality assurance practices. After a keynote presentation, participants will discuss about the different policies and guidelines, they have developed their policies and tools, and what factors they had to keep in mind to avoid risks related to less rigorous control practices. 

Panel discussion to be followed by audience Q&A.

11:30 – 12:40

Plenary Session VII: Remote inspection and trade verification practices: what are the lessons learned?

The session will discuss the different lessons learned from remote control practices of food establishments. The speakers will attempt to collect best practices and lessons learned from the past two years, touching upon previous discussions.

Panel discussion to be followed by interventions from the floor. 

12:40 – 13:00

Closing remarks and presentation of the Forum’s findings