European programme places renewed emphasis on research and innovation

By Oliver Nieburg

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food

The ETP ‘Food for Life’ programme is managed by FoodDrinkEurope
The ETP ‘Food for Life’ programme is managed by FoodDrinkEurope
The European Technology Platform (ETP) ‘Food for Life’ yesterday launched its new Strategic Research & Innovation Agenda (SRIA), which focuses upon improving food safety standards.

The ETP ‘Food for Life’ programme was launched in 2005 under the management of FoodDrinkEurope. It is an industry-led public/private partnership to drive innovation in the industry.

The first research agenda was set in 2007, but priorities have been updated in light of the EU’s 2020 Flagship Initiatives and the new Innovation Union.

The report set four R&D focus areas:

  1. Microbiological hazards and challenges
  2. Chemical hazards including toxins of biological
  3. Robust and cost effective risk analysis
  4. Real-time & rapid detection tools for food safety

Microbiological hazards and challenges

The programme plans to delve into methods to combat mutating microbiological hazards in order to comply with global regulations.

“Microorganisms are moving targets. New variants emerge from mutation and adaptation, and long-forgotten microorganisms re-emerge,”​ said the report.

“The interaction in ecosystems is complex. A number of knowledge gaps should be given attention within the next decade,”​ it continued.

These gaps include improved understanding of microorganisms in food matrices and processing environments, as well as getting to grips with cold-tolerance, salt tolerance and survival of food-borne pathogens in the food chain.

Chemical hazards

Wide-ranging chemical hazards from plant protection products, packaging residues and heavy metals are another area of focus.

“The manner in which these hazards are currently controlled is sub-optimal,”​ said the report.

It said that the entire food chain needed to be considered and particularly agricultural practices.

It said that alternatives to animal based food protein were needed. However, it warned that novel proteins must take care to avoid allergens.

The report added that while reducing allergens was a high priority it would ultimately be unsuccessful and it would be better to focus efforts on delivering consumer information.

Risk-analysis and real time tools

The programme hopes to develop a quantitative decision tree for allergen assessment and management.

Another aim is to develop tools for a risk-benefit assessment of genetically modified organisms, which may grow in importance in the face of upcoming food shortages.

ETP ‘Food for Life’ president Mike Knowles said that the revised research agenda would help support competiveness in the European food industry and help to meet the nutritional needs of consumers.

For the full report see HERE​.

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