Top 5 Food Risks to expect this summer

Food companies want to avoid major incidents, by being more proactive and less reactive in their food risk mitigation actions. They want to increase the amount of data that they can access, to better see around the corners and invest in the right preventive measures. Last but not least, they want to better allocate mitigation resources, to reduce investment in crisis investigation and product recalls.

To address this, the FOODAKAI’s digital crystal ball recently published its latest food safety report, with predictions on emerging safety and fraud issues that we should expect during the second half of the year. Key highlights include:

  • Less food recalls and import refusals during the next few months.
  • Decreased incidents in the categories of nuts, seeds, and cereals.
  • Consistently high incidents in the fruits and vegetables category.

But, even with all this data and reporting, the question remains:

How much can we trust AI-generated food risk predictions?

Our recent webinar with Prof. Chris Elliott (Queen’s University of Belfast, UK) answers this question and more. Chris was joined by Neil Marshall and Giannis Stoitsis to discuss about these updated 2021 predictions, the value of enhancing existing risk mitigation & supplier performance systems with more AI-powered tools, and how predictive tools can be smoothly deployed within an organization and become part of a daily routine. Here are the 5 must-knows from their conversation.

1. Significant incident increases to expect during and after this summer

This summer, the AI model predicts that we should expect significant incident increases in oregano (by ~430%), olives (by ~120%), pork and beef (by ~25%). Chris echoed this trend: “We should expect breaking news about oregano during this summer.

2. New issues forecasted to emerge

The AI model forecasts emerging issues such as mineral oils in wine, lead in ground turmeric, and fenbendazole in beef. In herbs & spices, buyers should be carefully testing for:

  • Lead, chromium and mercury in ground turmeric from India
  • Chlorpyrifos in ground cumin from Turkey
  • Dioxins in beef from Japan

Furthermore, companies should be on the lookout for haloxyfop in sesame seeds, ethylene oxide in pork sausages, and hydroxymethylfurfural in honey.

 3. Threats that official sources do not yet foresee

The AI model predicts an increased existence of heavy metals in herbs & spices, a risk that Chris also believes is highly probable, due to a combination of accidental and intentional contamination: “Metals like lead often go into some spices to increase the color and therefore the perceived value, as the prices of herbs & spices are soaring now.

Additionally, there are predictions of more incidents of wine being adulterated with water. Chris commented that indeed he picked up an article about the increased fraud risk in wines and beverages due to the pandemic.

4. Geographies to carefully monitor

In terms of countries, both Chris and the AI model highlighted Turkey as a sourcing region to carefully look at during the next period: “…due to the amount of processing of herbs & spices that takes place there.”

China, Brazil, and Mexico have been highlighted as regions to carefully monitor for emerging fraud as well.

 5. And the Oscar for the most fraudulent ingredient of 2021 goes to…


Chris mentions the case of an organized crime group that has been laundering illegal profits from substandard saffron labeled as Spanish. This is the story of Persian saffron that was smuggled into Spain, mixed with flower debris and mislabeled as saffron from La Mancha to benefit from higher prices.

FOODAKAI predicts massive issues in this category, a trend with which Chris also agrees: “For the remainder of the year, we need to be very much aware of fraud in saffron”.

With their varying backgrounds and expertise, all three experts agreed on one major theme: food supply data is becoming more and more complex. The volume and complexity of food supply data to monitor and interpret are growing exponentially.

This goes along with the food system being under tremendous pressure and major transformation. The changing environment brings new types of food safety risks, such as the impact of climate change.

This is a major opportunity, but also poses significant challenges: how can we access, process and use all this data to predict and prevent both current and future food safety risks?” At Agroknow, we are working hard every day to get you the answer to this question.

If you’d like to discover how FOODAKAI can help your Food Safety & Quality team prevent food recalls by monitoring & predicting risks, schedule a call with us!