Food and Environmental Protection

Food and Environmental Protection

The Food and Environmental Protection Section of the Joint Programme and its associated Food and Environmental Protection Laboratory of the FAO/IAEA Agricultural and Biotechnology Laboratory in Seibersdorf provide assistance and support to countries in their efforts to ensure the safety and quality of food and agricultural commodities and food security while at the same time facilitating international trade. Our activities primarily focus on strengthening Member State capacities for the application of international standards on irradiation as well as on the use of nuclear and related analytical technologies and capacity building in the control of food and environmental hazards as well as food traceability and authenticity. These efforts are based on a coordinated and comprehensive “farm to fork” approach to food production systems that ensure the application of good agricultural practices throughout the food chain.

IAEA Impact: How Nuclear Science Helps Botswana Control Animal Diseases, Ensure Food Safety and Maintain its Beef Exports IAEA Impact: How Nuclear Science Helps Botswana Control Animal Diseases, Ensure Food Safety and Maintain its Beef Exports. In Botswana, cattle is a way of life. Owning cattle and selling animals when money is tight provide the livelihood for much of the rural population and represent an important supplementary income for city dwellers. When in 2008 the European Union (EU) tightened sanitary requirements on beef imports, Botswana’s second largest export industry came to the verge of losing its most important and lucrative market. Since then, the use of nuclear and nuclear-derived techniques, introduced with support from the IAEA in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), has enabled the country to put in place veterinary and food safety surveillance systems that meet EU requirements. Read More »
International food standards International food standards. A video, available online below, has been made by the Codex Alimentarius, THE world food standards body. It highlights the Food and Environmental Protection Section of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division and its experts in food and nuclear sciences. With a direct link to the Joint FAO/World Health Organization Codex Alimentarius Commission and its international food safety standards, activities in joint FAO/IAEA programme are supporting member states and international standards. Not only does this work involve food irradiation proceedures, it also includes strengthening and disseminating Codex standards for analytical technologies to verify food authenticity and also to accurately measure residues of agrochemicals such as pesticides and veterinary drugs in food.
The FAO/IAEA partnership is an important example of a unique, interagency cooperation — with a fusion of complementary mandates, common targets, joint programming, co-funding and coordinated management all contributing to the safety of the food globally. Watch Video »
FAO/IAEA-NARO Technical Workshop on Remediation of Radioactive Contamination in Agriculture FAO/IAEA-NARO Technical Workshop on Remediation of Radioactive Contamination in Agriculture. The Technical Workshop “Remediation of Radioactive Contamination in Agriculture” will be held at IAEA Headquarters from 17 – 18 October 2016. This Workshop aims to promote and share knowledge and experience related to remediation of radioactive contamination in agriculture – including the improvement of emergency preparedness related to food and agricultural production in Member States and support efforts to re-establish agricultural trade from areas currently affected by residual levels of radionuclides. Read More »
Nuclear Techniques and International Food Standards of the Codex Alimentarius Nuclear Techniques and International Food Standards of the Codex Alimentarius. The Joint FAO/IAEA programme and its dedicated laboratories work with sister divisions in FAO and the IAEA. In terms of food and agriculture, it specializes in nuclear sciences to improve food safety, protect consumer health, and facilitate international agricultural trade. The programme provides technical expertise and support to Member Countries in the following areas, all closely related to the international food standards of Codex: the use of ionizing radiation, food authenticity, the control of food contaminants, IAEA radiation standards and nuclear or radiological emergency preparedness for events that could affect food and agriculture. The Codex Alimentarius is highlighting a video report of the IAEA in Austria to explore the very central role that nuclear science has played in the development of international food standards. Read More »
Catching food fraudsters through isotopes – FAO Podcast. In this podcast, our journey into the authenticity of food takes us from a small cheese shop in Italy to the Food and Environmental Protection Laboratory in Seibersdorf, where we explore how FAO and the International Atomic Energy Agency collaborate on nuclear technology for food and agriculture. We'll also hear stories about the rice fields of India and Pakistan. Along the way we talk to producers, scientists and food safety experts about the importance of genuine food and the role of isotopes as the tiniest, but very powerful, allies in the global fight against fraud. Read More »
Contributing to Strengthening Food Safety: IAEA Commemorates World Health Day Contributing to Strengthening Food Safety: IAEA Commemorates World Health Day. Contamination hazards in the agricultural food chain can stem from a range of sources including residues of agrochemicals, and natural toxins. The economic impact of food contamination and fraud is significant, and food fraud alone is estimated to cost billions of US dollars each year, affecting up 10 percent of food products sold. Read More »
Indonesia: Irradiation - a matter of food safety Food safety laboratories - As the food supply chain globalizes. What began in 2006 as a network of 49 food safety laboratories in Latin America and the Caribbean has now expanded to include representatives from 19 countries in the region with many more expected in the future. The initial network was made up of analytical laboratories and supported by the Joint FAO/IAEA Division. It focused on addressing contamination problems and determining ways to improve environmental and food safety that had regional applicability as well as health, trade and economic benefits. Read More »
Indonesia: Irradiation - a matter of food safety Indonesia: Irradiation - a matter of food safety. In February 2014, a landslide swept away a remote Indonesian village in West Java, displacing more than 2 000 villagers. At the time, Indonesia’s National Nuclear Energy Agency was participating in a Joint FAO/IAEA Division project that was using food irradiation to develop safe hospital food and emergency rations. When the project staff members learned of the landslide, they decided to use the technique to package safe rations for distribution at the emergency shelter. The staff was determined to give the shelter residents more than just the calories and nutrients they needed: the goal was to give them food that would make them feel good. Read More »
Viet Nam: Preventing insects from hitch-hiking to new pastures Viet Nam: Preventing insects from hitch-hiking to new pastures. From very modest beginnings of around 100 tonnes in 2008, Viet Nam increased its dragonfruit exports to the US to 1,300 tonnes in 2013, an increase made possible because the fruit went through an irradiation process to keep insect pests from stowing away in the shipment, allowing it to be certified as irradiated, which enabled it to pass strict US import regulations. Read More »
Using Dosimetry to Measure Absorbed Radiation Just the Right Amount: Using Dosimetry to Measure Absorbed Radiation. Photo Essay: Modern life just wouldn’t be the same without firm and ripe imported fruits, frozen pizza or überclean medical tools. All thanks to dosimetry! View Photo Essay »

Previous Highlights

Present activities focus on:

  • The application of harmonized national regulations for sanitary and phytosanitary applications of irradiation on the basis of international standards.
  • The revision and application of harmonized regulations related to radionuclide levels in foods.
  • The application of harmonized national regulations related to good laboratory practices and analytical procedures for food contaminants and residues, including pesticides and veterinary drugs.
  • Food traceability and authenticity.
  • The application of harmonized international guidance related to nuclear preparedness and response to nuclear or radiological events, including the application of appropriate agricultural countermeasures.

These activities are undertaken in four main areas, namely, coordination and support in research, providing technical and advisory services, providing laboratory support and training and collecting, analyzing and disseminating information. Our activities are implemented through Coordinated Research Projects, Technical Cooperation Projects, Meetings and Training Courses, eLearning courses, and Publications.