As part of the EU Authent-Net project, Nofima and CRA-W are developing the FARNHub website to encourage transparency and communication.
Tackling food crime
At the forefront of international food safety, an active commitment to overcome food crime requires cooperation as this can spur efficiency and expertise throughout the globe, Berg Sørdahl explained.
After the horsemeat scandal in the UK in 2013, the Elliott Review was conducted. It listed recommendations to work towards achieving food safety and consumer confidence. The National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) was set up in 2015 to improve understanding of food crime and find and address specific examples of dishonesty within food chains.
FARNHub is designed to enable scientists, funding bodies and policymakers to “share best practices, avoid duplication of research, and ensure a shared knowledge base”, Berg Sørdahl went on to say.
Providing previously untold information
While other food fraud-related databases exist, “these are often more narrow in scope”. As a result, Nofima has created FARNHub to include a wider array of information. It is hailed as a “one-stop-shop for information related to food authenticity and food fraud”.
This platform, which has been developed to fill a gap unlike any other food-based resource available in the market, is targeted at “anyone interested in the issue of food authenticity”.
Therefore, while it has the potential to influence and drive change through scientific research, industry decision-making and policy-making, it is also open to the general public who actively seek out information on food production, ingredients and marketing.
In an interview with Food Navigator, Nofima scientist Petter Olsen explained that analytical techniques are only one element of the fight against food crime. Olsen emphasised that involving the whole supply chain and adopting a unified approach throughout the globe is necessary.
Following these insights, Nofima will launch FARNHub with the support of the international industry. FARNHub is operated and updated by a group of administrators who each represent different countries. Although they manage the website, any individual accessing the website can contact the administrators to add missing information.
As the website becomes fully operational, Nofima will be responsible for publishing relevant news stories on the FARNHub website to inform its users about the latest insights, trends and updates.
To ensure its news is up to date, accurate and highly relevant — which will also include any food-related incidents — Nofima has created a web crawler. Acting as a scout for news, the crawler searches the web for new stories and publications that concentrate on several key topics, including “food fraud, food authenticity, and similar issues from around the world”.
Know what we’re eating
Looking to the future, Berg Sørdahl hopes that FARNHub will “become the go-to resource for information related to food authenticity”.
It aims is to “ensure a more targeted effort across borders to help combat the issue of food fraud” by offering a “tool for coordinating both research activities and funding”, Berg Sørdahl concluded.