Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Building trust in food

New approaches to identifying food hazards and evaluating risks related to food processing will help rebuild waning confidence that consumers exhibit with respect to the food they eat.
Building trust in food
Often, with profit being the bottom line for many food industry players, consumers have lost confidence in food safety standards and current quality standards. The EU-funded project 'Promoting food safety through a new integrated risk analysis approach for foods' (SAFE FOODS) aimed to restore consumer confidence in food products by improving food production governance.

It worked on a new risk analysis strategy that considers consumer preferences, values, socioeconomic aspects and human health aspects. Through transparent risk identification and evaluation involving different stakeholders, the project proposed more advanced food analysis using genomics (transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic techniques) to assess certain crops such as maize.

Another aspect was early detection of food hazards in agricultural production, as well as risk assessment of food exposure to contaminants and natural toxins. This also involved the establishment of an electronic platform of food consumption and residue databases connected to probabilistic software online and new modelling mechanisms. Key to risk-benefit assessment was the study on how to assess an emerging health problem, including data collection and modelling of exposure or effects of risks and benefits.

Moreover, SAFE FOODS investigated consumer confidence in risk analysis practices with respect to both conventional foods and novel foods in order to understand food risk management perceptions across Europe. It then identified the psychological determinants of good institutional food risk management in different EU countries.

On another important front, the project investigated institutional challenges and solutions to systemic risk management, producing the 'General Framework for the Precautionary and Inclusive Governance of Food Safety in Europe'. Through these initiatives, SAFE FOODS published two cutting-edge papers on the evaluation of social impact and risk-benefit perceptions of food safety issues.

The last part of the project saw the development of a new integrated risk analysis approach for foods. This approach integrated all the different aspects of the project gathered from the various breeding methods and production practices under study. Dissemination and training of the project results to different stakeholders and to the general public will help shift opinions and foster confidence through better risk assessment.

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