SAFE emphasises food safety topics for Horizon 2020

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Work programmes are drafted annually under the coordination of DG Research
Work programmes are drafted annually under the coordination of DG Research

Related tags: Food safety, Food

The SAFE consortium is continuing to emphasize food safety topics its members would like to see in the Horizon 2020 Work Programmes.

The European Association for Food Safety has produced another position paper in which it says challenges include increased population, restricted energy, water and other resources, climate change and environmental sustainability.

The position paper identified five topics​: safety for innovative manufacturing processes, safely reducing waste, safe valorization of by-products into foods, chemical and biological food safety including toxins and contaminants and traceable, safe, authentic products for consumer confidence.

Members of the consortium include Nestlé Research Center (NRC), Nofima (Norway), MATIS (Iceland), AZTI-Tecnalia (Spain) and PAN (Poland).

Consideration in Horizon 2020

Begoña Pérez Villarreal, the SAFE consortium chair of the executive board, told FoodQualityNews it is active in putting forward and communicating opinions and research priorities on food safety.

“With our SAFE position paper, we would like to emphasize those food safety topics that our members would like to see adequately considered in the Horizon 2020 Work Programmes (WPs), especially in the Societal Challenge 2 that deals with Food security and the bioeconomy, among other topics,” ​she said.

“The H2020 WPs covers two years, and just now we are discussing the WPs of 2016-2017, which we expect will be published by early autumn this year.”

Food safety risks have diverse origins including improper manufacturing technologies, contamination along the processing chain, improper re-use of food waste, novel, emerging and re-emerging microorganisms and plant diseases including mycotoxins and zoonoses of food origin.

Novel technology barrier

SAFE said there is insufficient knowledge, data, or access to it for many new technologies which makes it difficult to take the crucial steps needed for widespread commercial application.

“Some of the novel processing technologies that have proven good results to prevent food safety issues and improve quality and process efficiency, need to be demonstrated at industrial level, especially with complex foods, for allowing their mainstream application,” ​said Pérez Villarreal.

“These solutions that have been studied at lab and pilot plant showing very interesting potential, need to implement their market uptake, to overcome the risks associated to scaling-up and the identified market barriers.

“The evaluation of the safety efficiency of novel technologies is extremely strict in Europe.

“There are expert research groups specialised in validation of novel food technologies and in relation with European legislation, so the steps that are required to make them super-safe during their implementation in the food industry are well known.”

Supply chain complexity

Foods have components from all corners of the globe and the system is almost indecipherably complex with the possibility of failure still patently present, said SAFE.

“The European consumer trusts that the foods available to him are safe, and the food industry is very conscious about the importance of maintaining a high level of food safety in their process. And we know that our food system is extremely complex and global, receiving components from all corners of the earth,” ​said Pérez Villarreal.

“So, every stakeholder has to be very vigilant that the system is adapted to continuous changes that can affect the production, assembly, transportation, storage, preparation and consumption.

“In SAFE we consider that it is a shared responsibility between industry, regulators, financing bodies and all food system stakeholders to be aware that food safety issues are dynamic and we should be adequately prepared.”

A previous paper looked at Consumer trust in the food chain’​ , ‘Elimination of enterohemorrhagic pathogens from the fresh produce production chain’, ‘Employment of computational methods to mitigate food safety risks and ‘New technological approaches for reducing allergenic risk’. 

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