Will Robots Take Over Risk Assessments? Creme Global at EFSA’s Conference

On the occasion of the World EXPO 2015 exhibition in Milan, Cronan McNamara, CEO of Creme Global and I attended EFSA’s 2nd Scientific Conference – Shaping the Future of Food Safety, Together from the 14th to 16th of October 2015. The conference offered a great variety and quality of talks during those three days.

As a nutritional scientist I attended the keynote speech on nutrition in the 21st century, given by Thomas Sanders from King’s College London. It’s no big surprise that obesity is growing in Europe. During his talk, Thomas went through the role of new technologies such as novel foods, genetics, epigenetics and IT in nutrition; all of them looking for solutions to this epidemic. However, some of these are potentially contributing to the issue.

We live in an obesogenic environment, a culture exposed to impulse purchasing and indulgence. Talking about biscuit amnesia (self delusion on one’s dietary intake), ever growing portion sizes and exaggerated reporting of physical activity might sound too simple, but nevertheless it was refreshing to hear these mentioned.

Other amazing talks were delving into nutritional programming at conception and infancy as well as personalized nutrition in the microbiome.

One of the main topics was on ‘Open Data’ in today’s world and how to make sense of this flow of unstructured information. A stimulating talk was given by Cameron Brooks from the IBM Watson Group. Will Watson, a cognitive system, be able to explore the exponentially growing data out there, make sense of it and make decisions in the risk assessment area. Whether this system can overcome certain biases remains to be seen. In the meantime people can try out recipes from the book Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson. One of the main concluding comments was that the development of new tools and data are growing at a faster pace than it can be exploited by the scientists which is something we have been saving for a number of years in Creme Global.

I found the conference quite inspiring and was impressed by the excellent talks and I look forward to seeing what can be done by EFSA and others on the future of food safety.

Written by Sandrine Pigat on October 22 2015

Signup for our newsletter