Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Food safety for the future

The concept of food as we know it is evolving rapidly, with new ingredients, genetic manipulation, food allergies and a host of other emerging issues. A new roadmap for overcoming these challenges in the future is necessary.
Food safety for the future
At the turn of the century, food safety challenges prompted Europe to fund research projects on the topic and map research directions for the years to come. The EU-funded project 'Integration of European food safety research from producers to consumers' (IRFOS) consolidated and highlighted results from recent chemical and biological food safety projects.

Project researchers organised a pivotal conference in 2004 in France on 'Integrating Safety and Nutrition Research along the Food Chain: The New Challenge'. The conference supported projects under the EU's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) as well as FP5 and developed guidelines to support the subject under FP7.

The first of the conference's four sessions investigated microbiological risks in the food chain, such as bacteria, viruses and parasites. It addressed gaps in research such as risk assessment, microbiology of surfaces and improved food-borne disease statistics.

In the second session, the project investigated chemical risks in the food chain such as contaminants, ingredients, additives and novel foods. The research also covered gaps in research and emerging challenges, as well as expected trends in society such as evolving diets, health issues and ageing populations' needs.

Nutritional benefits and risk communication in the food chain formed the topic of discussion in the third session, highlighting gaps in risk communication, mapping food culture and nutrition-related diseases. The session highlighted expected trends such as increased food intolerances, lower disposable incomes and an increase in inflammatory diseases.

Finally, the conference investigated detection and traceability in the food chain, i.e. from farm to fork. It probed technical and scientific research gaps and evolution ranging from traceability technology to safety of nanoparticles. Emerging or re-emerging issues such as antibiotic resistance, mycotoxin contamination, bio-nanotechnology and environmental impact were all probed during this session.

This conference and its final document (available through the project website) have successfully emphasised the areas and challenges to address in the coming decades. The valuable roadmap provided will help ensure that aging populations and future generations are not caught by surprise with respect to food challenges, upcoming technologies and potential risks.

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