Climate change will affect food safety unless action is taken
A professor from Michigan State University explains that without intervention, the effect of climate change means food safety that is already compromised will inevitably worsen from the impact on animal products and crops.
One of the most recent examples cited is the pathogen Vibrio, recently highlighted by NOAA, as a threat to humans from overgrowth of toxic algae in warm waters.
Ewen Todd, an MSU professor of advertising, public relations and retailing and says, "Accelerating climate change is inevitable with implications for animal products and crops. At this point, the effects of climate change on food safety are poorly understood." Todd is also an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow.
He explains as temperatures rise, Vibrio has spread further North, noting there are already examples of the impact a changing climate will have on food safety. "It's been moving further up the coast these past few years," he said. "There was an outbreak of it near Alaska in 2005 when water temperature reached 15 degrees Celsius."
Droughts and heavy rains from climate change have already wiped out some crops. Todd explains as food supplies dwindle, people will store them longer, leading to mold problems known as mycotoxins that could cause illness in humans.
Todd presented the information at this year's meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He says unless action is taken, the inevitability of climate change will affect food safety, result in higher prices and increase the potential for human illness from Vibrio that is already spreading in warmer waters and mycotoxins.