Within the European meat sector the pork industry is crucial both in terms of consumption and in terms of its commercial importance. Pork is the most produced and consumed meat in Europe (51 %), as well as the most exported.
Large enterprises in the pork industry may be able to afford the regular application of expensive checks, such as ELISA and PCR-based methods. However, for SMEs, which account for 94 % of businesses in the European meat industry, these methods are mostly beyond economic reach, thus impeding their capability to compete with large enterprises and comply with strict regulations. Consequently, SMEs in the pork industry are losing competitive advantage to larger companies, with analysts advising that the sector will have to consolidate in the future in order to compete internationally.
The main objective of PASSPORK project is to develop, validate and test an affordable, durable, rapid and reliable multi-pathogen detector and hygiene monitor for use by non-technical staff in the pork industry. This will allow participants in the meat supply chain such as abattoirs and meat-processors to assess their production hygiene and the presence of pathogens and immediately take appropriate remedial action where necessary. Rapid intervention will significantly reduce the risk of cross contamination and the possibility of pathogens entering the food chain.
The detection system will take an overall test time of 5-6 minutes and will not only signal the presence of a pathogen but will also aim to add a consumer health risk score to the result.
PASSPORK is a project funded by the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme. Concretely under the “Research for the benefit of SMEs” (Capacities) programme. The project started in September 2012 and will last for 24 months. The €1.299.919 contribution from Brussels brings together applied research centres, universities, food engineering laboratories, as well as a pork slaughterhouse and a processing plant from six different countries: Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and United Kingdom.