Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Novel prediction system for food safety and quality

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are under immense pressure to cut costs by optimising procedures and products while maintaining the quality and safety of food. An EU initiative introduced software for food quality and hygiene management.
Novel prediction system for food safety and quality
SMEs, which account for about 99 % of the food industry, need to balance safety and shelf life assurances with the demand for high-quality and low-cost products. For fresh or minimally processed food like salads, this becomes increasingly challenging because of the inherent risk of contamination and increased probability of outbreaks.

The EU-funded SOPHY (Development of a software tool for prediction of ready-to-eat food product shelf life, quality and safety) project sought to make this balancing act simpler by developing a web-based software tool that makes predictions about the safety, quality and shelf life of ready-to-eat (RTE) foods.

Fresh cut and delicatessen salads were the two RTE food commodity test cases chosen to develop the software. Online and market surveys, focus groups and on-site visits helped identify industry needs and expectations for the software ahead of development.

SMEs can virtually optimise their raw material selection, product formulation and processing steps. The software estimates the effect of each production stage on the safety and shelf life of a food product while taking quality into account. It can be easily extended to include further ingredients and be adapted to different RTE food products.

Project partners developed predictive and probabilistic models to be integrated into the software. These models are based on existing data sets of bacterial growth and quality changes under various conditions that were previously generated and from data gathered during the project. Users are also able to input their own data.

The SOPHY team gathered information about various processing methods, product formulations, environmental conditions, and hygiene, quality and safety management. These so-called information sheets enable SMEs with limited resources to understand the impact of various factors on shelf life and pathogen growth determined by the models without having to carry out complex laboratory analyses.

The SOPHY software solution saves salad-processing SMEs time and money while boosting their awareness of overall food safety and quality.

Related information




Food safety, food quality, hygiene management, shelf life, salads, ready-to-eat
Record Number: 175273 / Last updated on: 2016-03-04
Domain: IT, Telecommunications