GHI Book Series: Part of Your Essential Reading List

As food scientists and engineers, we all have books on our shelves that we think of as “essential reading.” These useful volumes allow us to tap into the scientific knowledge and expertise of our colleagues from around the world whenever needed. Books in the GHI Series, published under Elsevier’s Academic Press imprint, are written with that aim in mind: to be part of your essential reading when you’re looking for science-based information about the globalization harmonization of food safety laws and regulations.

With the success of the first book in the GHI Series, “Ensuring Global Food Safety – Exploring Global Harmonization,” in mind, it is my pleasure to suggest adding the second book, Regulating Safety of Traditional and Ethnic Foods, to your food safety science and technology library. Published in November 2015 and edited by GHI members V. Prakash, Olga Martin-Belloso, Larry Keener, Sian B. Astley, Susanne Braun, Helena McMahon and Huub Lelieveld, the book looks at a variety of traditional and ethnic foods from around the world through the lens of food safety practices and regulations.

We know that traditional and ethnic foods have traveled beyond the borders of their cultural birthplaces, and that such foods—from kimchi to borsh to fermented cassava—are now available all over the world. However, many consumers doubt the safety of food coming from other countries or those that are prepared in a traditional way that is unknown to them. In theory, food can be safe in one place but may not be safe for people living somewhere else. Scientifically correct information about the safety of traditional and ethnic foods is difficult to find, and regulators tend to be very careful when developing rules involving foods for which they do not have evidence-based data.

This is why we invited scientists from all over the globe to write about the food traditions in their region and how the food is prepared from a food safety perspective. Regulating Safety of Traditional and Ethnic Foods has become a unique book, with 46 authors from 17 countries discussing virtually all types of food – including flowers and insects – and the many ways of preparation and processing, including drying, smoking, boiling, frying and fermenting . Of course, the book discusses the regulatory aspects and the desirability of harmonizing food safety regulations related to traditional and ethnic foods around the world.

Having published about the safety aspects of regulating traditional and ethnic foods, GHI is in the early stages of planning a related book series that will discuss the nutritional and health aspects of these foods. In addition to detailing the regulatory aspects such as harmonized labeling, these books will be the first ever to describe traditional and ethnic foods in terms of historical and cultural use, geography, preservation and storage, modern production approaches, and environmental and sustainability. The series will cover all countries in the world and is expected to consist of 26 volumes.

In the meantime, please do visit the Elsevier bookstore to view the table of contents and learn a bit more about the editors. We hope that you will make this the latest addition to your food safety bookshelf!

Welcome to GHI’s New Website

On behalf of the GHI Board and our team of volunteer leaders, I am pleased to welcome you to the updated Global Harmonization Initiative website, We hope that you will find the modern, clean design and navigation a more user-friendly, content-rich experience. Our aim is to create and grow an online resource for our members and stakeholders that offers the latest news and progress updates about the association, its activities and its publications.

This re-designed website marks the third iteration of our online presence, and in a way, mirrors the growth of GHI over the years.

In 2004, a small group of food scientists were disturbed by an emerging downside of market globalization: the destruction of large amounts of food due to differences in food safety regulations and laws that were not scientifically justified—food that, in reality, was safe and wholesome to consume. In a world in which nearly 1 billion people are malnourished or starving, reasoned the group, this was an unacceptable state of affairs. The group, including current board members Dr. Vishweshwaraiah Prakash (India), Mr. Larry Keener (USA), Dr. Sangsuk Oh (Korea) and the author of this note, Dr hc Huub Lelieveld (Netherlands), decided to form a working group to try to do something about it. Thus, the Global Harmonization Initiative was established with a mission to advocate for science-based food law and trade. Within six months, the grassroots organization of food scientists and regulatory experts drew up a charter and launched a .org website with a member registration database with the help of volunteers. Unfortunately, a few years later we lost both the domain name ending in .org and the membership database as a result of a misunderstanding between the working group and the host provider.

Despite this early setback, GHI continued to grow. In 2007 it was decided to register GHI as a nonprofit organization in Austria (in our judgment, the most neutral country in the world). A founding GHI Board member, Dr. Gerhard Schleining of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in Vienna, provided valuable assistance in this regard. That year, GHI became “official,” with a constitutional framework ensuring that it operates as a not-for-profit, impartial association. GHI again was in need of an official website, and fortunately in 2009, Dr. Schleining introduced GHI to a highly reputable web developer who worked for (among many others) the authorities in Austria. This expert, Gunter Greil, sympathized with GHI’s endeavor and was willing to support the association by offering to rebuild and maintain the website at no cost. The second website, now boasting a .net domain, helped GHI re-establish its online presence and grow its membership database.

As GHI’s structure and programs have expanded in the last seven years, so has our need for a website that can grow—and evolve—with us. GHI is tremendously grateful to our webmaster Gunter Greil for modernizing our website platform, greatly increasing its functionality and accessibility in a mobile-friendly format. We are also  extremely appreciative of the efforts of our longtime communications director and recently appointed executive director, Julie Larson Bricher, who created, wrote, edited and produced the web content for the entire site. Julie also has set up our social media accounts to coincide with the website relaunch, and we look forward to connecting with GHI members and the public through these new channels of communication.

I invite you to take a tour of the new website. I hope that our members and supporters are as pleased with it as I am. A passion for a food-secure world led us here, and with these new online tools, GHI hopes to better communicate that passion.   

*Note: We’d like to recognize the pioneering participants of the first GHI working group meeting. Much appreciation to: Michele Buchanan, Catherine Adams, Christine Boisrobert, Cindy Stewart, Edgar Murakami, Huub Lelieveld, James Yuan, Jerry Roberts, Kerry Toth Rost, Larry Keener, Lars Reimann, Martin Cole, Michele Buchanan, Ray Leenhouts, Richard Braem, Rosie Newsome, Sue Estes, and Tatiana Koutchma. Thank you all for your support over the years!