Climate change and food safety

Amongst possible effects of climate change on food safety are the following:

  An increase in food poisoning cases
  An increase in pest contaminants
  Drought conditions may cause power crises and power cuts – impact on refrigeration
  Heavy rainfall may wash farmland contaminants into reservoirs
  Algal blooms may contaminate seafood
  Bacteria in animal feeds may multiply much faster

Other possible effects could be

  A general loss of food production
  A decrease in crop productivity in hotter areas
  Shorter growing seasons leading to food shortages

Information sources

UK Government reports

Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK - An expert review for comment
Report of the Expert Group on Climate Change and Health in the UK
Dept of Health. 2001. 290 pp
Chapter 4.2. Food poisoning and climate change, pp 93-98

 Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK 2008 – an update of the Department of Health Report 2001/2002.
Dept of Health. 2008. 113 pp
Chapter 4. Foodborne Disease and Climate Change. pp 71-75

Food and Climate change: A review of the effects of climate change on food within the remit of the Food Standards Agency
Report of a review commissioned by the Food Standards Agency from the University of East Anglia. 2010.
Chapter 8. Climate change and food safety

International reports

Climate change: implications for food safety
Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)
Rome 2008

Considers the following areas:

  Crop production
  Animal production
  Food handling, processing, trading

Considers the following issues:

  Bacteria & viruses
  Toxigenic fungi
  Algal blooms
  Environmental contaminants & chemical residues
  Emergency situations

Protecting health in Europe from climate change
Edited by Bettina Menne, Franklin Apfel, Sari Kovats and Francesca Racioppi
WHO Europe 2008, 51 pages
ISBN 978 92 890 7187 1
Protecting nutrition and food safety in a changing climate. pp 20-23

Health and climate change: the "now and how" guide. (pdf 35 pp)
A policy action guide
WHO Europe. 2005
pp 24-25. Foodborne and waterborne diseases

A Human Health Perspective On Climate Change
A report outlining the research needs on the human health effects of climate change
NIEHS. 2010
Foodborne diseases and nutrition. pp 25-27

Sustainable food systems and health. The convenient truth of addressing climate change while promoting health
U.N Standing Committee on Nutrition/WHO. December 2015 

NGO reports

Cooking up a storm. Food, greenhouse gas emissions and our changing climate
Food Climate Research Network, University of Surrey
September 2008
3.c.viii. Food safety and waste. p. 45.

Climate Change and its Health Implications (pdf 84 pp)
A summary report for environmental health practitioners on the health implications of climate change
CIEH. November 2008
Para 5.21. Food poisoning. pp 37-38


The Health Practitioners Guide to Climate Change
Ed. Jenny Griffiths; Mala Rao; Fiona Adshead; Allison Thorpe
Publisher: Earthscan. 2009. 380 pp. ISBN: 978-1-84407-729-8

Drought nutrition and food security. pp 45-47
Food poisoning. pp 47-8
Enhancing food and water security and supplementation. pp 340-345
Link to Earthscan publications via Routledge

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