EU lags behind US in food testing integration - report

By Mark Astley

- Last updated on GMT

EU lags behind US in food testing integration - report

Related tags: Food testing market, European union

Integrated European systems for reporting and tracking foodborne outbreaks are not as advanced as those in the United States, according to a US report on the EU testing market.

The report, Food Micro, Sixth Edition:Food Microbiology Testing in Europe​, agreed that EU inter-country food safety cooperation is improving, but added that it will take time before it reaches the standard of the current US system.

The intention of the research, the first to focus exclusively on the European food testing market, was to document current microbiology testing practices and emerging food testing trends in the region.

The report lead author expects the European food testing market to improve in coming years as awareness of the food safety and contamination increases.

Excellent US integration

“In the US there has been an excellent integration of information on potential outbreaks. Health agencies from all regions of the country bring together information which is then integrated into a common database,”​ Tom Weschler, lead author of the report, told FoodProductionDaily.com.

“There are wonderful advances in Europe and the ability to share that information is increasing, but it just doesn’t seem to be that far along as in the States yet.”

“The German E.coli outbreak caused a heightened level of awareness of potential food safety problems in Europe, whereas in the US, for example, that same level of awareness has been evident for the last three, four five years.”

The interviews were conducted during spring this year, which Weschler believes represents a good picture of Europe before the German E.coli outbreak.

“We have a good snapshot of how things were months before the outbreak,”​ he said.

“When we go back to Europe and do an update on the sector, we can measure the implications were, from a testing point of view, as a result of the German E.coli outbreak.”

EU-US comparison

Researchers conducted more than 175 interviews in 11 European countries – representing more than 75% of all food production in the EU.

The 27 EU Member States, with a population of 500m – nearly 60% larger than the US - performed an estimated 275m food microbiology tests in 2011, the report said.

The US sector performed around 213m tests in the US in 2010, in comparison.

Strategic Consulting, which produced the report, hope in time to compare the findings of the study with results from its previous report Food Micro, Fifth Edition, ​which focussed on the US.

What we now have is two important research studies that give an indication of what type of testing being conducted by the food industry on either side of the Atlantic.”

“At some point in the near future we will produce an extensive report evaluating and comparing micro-testing in Europe and in the US,” ​Weschler concluded.

Food Micro, Sixth Edition:Food Microbiology Testing in Europe ​is available from​Strategic Consulting.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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