Food and Environmental Protection Section

This Section works to improve food safety and quality, enhance food monitoring systems for contaminants, trace the origin of food, verify its composition and promote the commercial use of food irradiation. It also helps strengthen preparedness and response to nuclear or radiological emergencies affecting food and agriculture.

The Section and its associated laboratory develop, modify and validate novel and innovative analytical techniques for detecting agrochemical and environmental contaminants in foods and for combating food fraud. Ensuring the authenticity, traceability and integrity of the food supply chain is becoming increasingly important for trade. These techniques are transferred to national laboratories and regulatory authorities in Member States to help build and strengthen their food safety control systems.

The Section’s work also includes technical support and guidance on post-harvest applications of food irradiation techniques to help maintain food quality, reduce the risk of foodborne illness and invasive pests, and support the implementation of appropriate sanitary or phytosanitary controls. Research activities and the transfer of techniques and skills are delivered by establishing international networks of research and food regulatory institutions.

Another focus for the Section is its work on nuclear emergency preparedness and response, which it undertakes in close collaboration with the Animal Production and Health, the Plant Breeding and Genetics, and the Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Sections. These activities are part of an international network that includes not only the IAEA but also the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Health Organization and other international bodies.

The Section’s work in this field includes maintaining emergency response plans, developing standards and norms for dealing with radioactivity in food and agriculture, and helping Member States to address issues relating to radioactive contamination in food and agriculture.

Supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals

The Section supports national, regional and international activities related to food security. This includes food quality and safety, food production, and food supply and availability, according to internationally agreed standards, such as those of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. This is in line with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and specifically Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2, 3 and 17.