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Quality and Risk Management in Meat Chains

Final Report Summary - QUARISMA (Quality and Risk Management in Meat Chains)

The research programme QUARISMA (QUAlity and RISk MAnagement in meat chains) represents an interdisciplinary and intersectoral co-operation in a European main area of meat production, localised cross-border in the Netherlands and the north-western part of Germany. QUARISMA was funded by the IAPP (Industry-Academia Partnerships and Pathways) Programme, which is an element of the specific Programme Marie-Curie Actions of the EU 7th Framework Programme. Researchers from academia are seconded to industrial partners and vice versa. The platform for public-private co-operation in research and development, GIQS e.V. coordinated the consortium from September 2009 until August 2013.
The overall objectives of QUARISMA were:
- to promote the innovation in the field of inter-enterprise quality and risk management in the meat industry,
- to transfer knowledge and expertise between academia and the meat industry, and
- to improve the effectiveness of research and development in the European meat sector.
These objectives were reached through the exchange of 23 fellows (11 male, 12 female persons). Three of them were recruited (one researcher by VION, two researchers by GIQS), 16 were seconded from academia to industry partners and four were seconded from industry partners to academia (Universities of Bonn and Wageningen).
QUARISMA has introduced a techno-managerial approach, where quality issues are simultaneously perceived and analysed from research, technical and managerial perspectives. The aim is to integrate the different disciplines to contribute to the achievement of superior quality.
Throughout the whole joint research and knowledge transfer activities attention to chain aspects was paid
- technical aspects and interactions through the meat production chain,
- supply chain management and partnerships,
- chain quality assurance focused on food safety, and
- strategic alliances in meat supply chains.


The QUARISMA project was organised in six work packages (WP):
WP 1 Chain management,
WP 2 Quality and information management,
WP 3 Risk management and food safety.
WP 4 Assessment and validation in pilot chains,
WP 5 Training, education and dissemination, and
WP 6 Transfer of knowledge, networking and innovation management.

Within WP 1 “Chain management” research was focused on supply chains and the information exchange which can be obtained through implementing “supply-chain information systems” (SCISs). Four German pork supply chains that have successfully implemented a supply-chain information system were analysed. This research will help project managers who are implementing a supply-chain information system to understand typical events and critical activities. Improvement of the information exchange will make the production processes more efficient and will increase the pork quality. This will lead to more earnings for farmers, slaughterhouse(s), and other actors within the German pork meat supply chain. In conclusion, the implementation of a supply-chain information system within a German pork meat supply chain will increase the competiveness of this supply chain as a whole.
Another research focus of WP 1 was the comparison of the existing pig health management systems in Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark in order to find out whether there is a common base in the systems. Based on these results, a concept for harmonization of the pig health management systems was developed. The results were discussed with experts in a workshop in May 2013.
The third task in WP 1 was to develop cost efficient integration models in meat supply chains. Here for, a decision support tool was developed to determine cost-effective schemes for monitoring dioxins over multiple stages of the pork supply chain. The results of the modelling showed that for all contamination scenarios and taking into account all control points for monitoring, the feed mill is the optimal control point for detecting and tracing dioxins in the pork chain.
The overall objective of WP 2 “Quality and information management” was to improve the IT (Information Technology) support of quality management (QM) and to facilitate chain-wide implementation of IT-processes in meat production through new guidelines and integration models. On the example of a Classical Swine Fever (CSF) outbreak as one possible crisis scenario a conceptual framework was drawn to enable the transfer of the general methodical approach of the Engage-Exchange Model (EEM) into a specific model for the meat production sector. The developed prototype represents a first technical-organizational concept and serves as a support tool for public-private partnership alliances to facilitate an improved crisis communication.
Also within WP 2 guidelines for IT-support of herd-health management were developed. The objective was to explore the potential of slaughterhouse blood as predictor of pig herd health status, as reflected in technical performance of the herd and the usage of antimicrobial drugs. Based on ELISA serology results, a new developed serological indicator (SI) was calculated (the average proportion of positive samples). The significant correlations between the serological results and the different key performance indicators (KPI) shows that the analysis of blood, sampled at slaughter, may aid to making better decisions on controlling consumer oriented quality production and pig herd health management. Based on the findings under the umbrella of QUARISMA, the growers association Südostbayern eG (EGS) established a pig herd health monitoring program based on blood sampled at slaughter.
In WP 3 "Food safety and risk management" a concept to improve hazard control and reduce risks along the supply chain was developed. This concept was based on several studies on microbiological hazards (e.g. Listeria, Salmonella), and chemical hazards (e.g. dioxins). Additionally, a boar taint detection method was developed for an improved operational process control and the disinfection process of knives and slaughter equipment was optimised. Based on three case studies the effects of a supply chain control program on food safety were demonstrated. Two sub-projects studied the integration of environmental management in the quality management system and the effects of animal welfare management on societal perception.
In WP 4 “Assessing and validation in pilot chains” the prediction of pork quality by near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) technology was studied. Furthermore, a farm health management system for identification of herds with suboptimal health was developed in cooperation with WP 2 and implemented at EGS. Two other fellows continued the research work on the optimization of feeding of herds with suboptimal health status (pigs and cattle).
In WP 5 “Training, education and dissemination” the interdisciplinary “Quality Systems Manager Junior Programme (QSMJ)” was developed in the framework of restructuring and modernising education at European universities. The new qualification scheme of the University of Bonn was accredited by the DGQ (German Organization for Quality) in February 2011. Afterwards, a joint education model for International Quality and Risk Management Education and Training of Management Personnel in Food Chains has been developed and will be implemented in other European Universities.
One of the main outputs of the QUARISMA project was the publication of the book “Qualitätsmanagement in der Agrar- und Ernährungswirtschaft” (ed. M. Nüssel and B. Petersen, 2013) as well as the English version that will be published in 2014 (“Quality and risk management in agri-food chains”, ed. Brigitte Petersen, Manfred Nüssel and Martin Hamer, ISBN: 978-90-8686-236-8).

Knowledge transfer, networking and innovation management (WP 6) was promoted through several dissemination activities like conferences, workshops, presentations, posters, publications, flyers and press releases. GIQS as project coordinator organized seven international events (conferences and workshops), 12 peer reviewed articles were published and four PhD-Thesis were finished within the QUARISMA project, and the QUARISMA fellows could attend several international conferences and workshops.


Industry-academia knowledge infrastructure
QUARISMA delivered an adequate infrastructure to develop, exchange and disseminate knowledge in the field of quality and risk management in meat chains and networks. The Universities of Bonn and Wageningen seconded researchers to the project partner VION Fresh Meat North GmbH, Deutscher Raiffeisen-Verband e.V. (DRV), Erzeugergemeinschaft für Schlachtvieh im Raum Osnabrück eG (EGO), Erzeugergemeinschaft Südostbayern eG (EGS) and Veravis GmbH (formerly Agri-Q GmbH), and Gezondheidsdienst voor Dieren (GD). The work of the seconded researchers to the industry highly contributed to de strategic needs of the meat industry. Academic perspectives helped to develop and implement new systems and to assess their value. The exchange between academia and industry helped the researchers to evaluate the practical implications of their work.

Long-term private-public-partnerships
One of the contributions of QUARISMA is to strengthen and to internationalise knowledge on quality and risk management in food chains and networks through the development of long-term private-public-partnerships for the supply of high quality and safe foods. This was achieved through bringing together the industry partners VION as well as SMEs and universities to develop, translate and exchange knowledge around the subjects of integrated quality, safety and risk management systems for food supply chains.

Sustainable production approach
QUARISMA has paid specific attention to animal friendliness of production and distribution systems, (low) input of antibiotics, environmental and societal aspects. These aspects are of primary importance for the acceptance and long-term sustainability of food supply chains.

Research network building
Within QUARISMA the interregional staff secondment has brought together experts from research and industry responsible for food safety and quality. For the QUARISMA partners the project has provided an excellent opportunity to translate and transfer knowledge directly to develop innovations in the field of quality and risk management in the meat industry.

Extent of SME contribution
The involved SMEs ensured the effectiveness of intersectoral knowledge transfer in the field of inter-enterprise quality and risk management in the European meat sector. As hosts of seconded researchers the SMEs granted full access to their special knowledge in the fields of certifying food quality management systems, pork production and beef cattle production. They exchanged know-how and expertise regarding the implementation of international food standards and legal regulations into practise with the project consortium. SMEs are important innovators and disseminators in the sector, because they have quick decision processes and flat hierarchical structures to carry out niche, leading-edge and specialised research.

Further information:
Contact: Dr. Martin Hamer, +49-228-73 1950,