Harmonising food safety standards and practice across the enlarged European Union will need a concerted effort from old Member States (MS), New Member States (NMS) and Associated Candidate Countries (ACC). Past EU research projects have yielded a lot of information on potential food contaminants and how to control them. SAFEFOODNET, a new two-year Specific Support Action, will bring NMS and ACC research groups and experts on food safety into the information network. Its consortium, with 20 partners, from four MS, ten NMS and three ACC, will focus on chemical food safety. Old and new member states both stand to benefit: the first from access to skills and experience in the NMS and ACC, the last from integration into the European Research Area as it applies to food safety.
NEW EUROPEAN BODY
A European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has just been set up to coordinate and integrate all food safety research and promotion that takes place in Member States. Such activities have been going on for a long time in some MS, but they need unification into overall European policy and practice. The NMS, and the ACC that are preparing to join the EU, need to address food safety issues in a unified way and contribute to a Europe-wide approach under EFSA. SAFEFOODNET will be the vehicle for this preparation.
The first step in SAFEFOODNET will be to set up a protocol for collecting information from each country so that it can all be compared with validity. Data are being collected on chemical food safety issues in each country, covering analytical capabilities, expert institutions and the people who work in them. Another aspect will be to assess whether a standard national diet could be defined for each country, together with patterns of consumption. It might then be possible to use the WHO's GEMS/FOOD methods to calculate exposure to chemical contaminants, either through an acute outbreak of unusual contamination, or the longterm, gradual intake of such substances as pesticides.
All these data will be used to assemble a profile of each NMS and ACC in the project, revealing its strengths and weaknesses, training needs and potential for new research collaboration. Workshops will be held with the relevant authorities in each country and experts in relevant fields: analytical chemistry, exposure assessment, the management of food contamination, and dietary assessment. Scientists or other delegates from MS will also attend these workshops, helping to build up a European network for chemical food safety. A website will be started and maintained throughout the two-year project, with all national researchers and institutions profiled on it and public access to many areas.
These measures will go a long way towards integrating all potential and actual EU members into the EFSA. The SAFEFOODNET national coordinators will be the link for cooperation with the fledgling authority.
CASCADING RESEARCH WEBS
The Sixth Framework Programme contains a number of projects on chemical food safety. Researchers from NMS and ACC will be encouraged to prepare proposals, together with other MS, as well as join in relevant Networks of Excellence and existing research programmes. Examples are THE CASCADE NoE (Chemicals as Contaminants in the Food Chain) and HAIR (Harmonised environmental indicators for Pesticide Risks). Ultimately, the project partners will be able to formulate and propose new joint research projects.
List of Partners
- International Centre for Pesticides and Health Risk Prevention (Italy)
- Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, University of Padova (Italy)
- Istituto Mario Negri (Italy)
- The Danish Institute for Food and Veterinary Research (Denmark)
- Institute of Outpatient Clinic of Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, (Germany)
- National Centre of Public Health Protection (Bulgaria)
- Godollo Agribusiness Centre (Hungary)
- Institute of Agricultural and Food Information (Czech Republic)
- Iuliu Moldovan Institute of Public Health, Cluj-Napoca (Romania)
- Food Research Institute Bratislava (Slovakia)
- National Food and Nutrition Institute (Poland)
- Latvia University of Agriculture (Latvia)
- Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Ankara Province Control Laboratory Directorate (Turkey)
- Estonian Environmental Research Centre (Estonia)
- Research and Consultancy Institute (Cyprus)
- Agricultural Research Institute (Cyprus)
- Kaunas University of Technology (Lithuania)
- University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Social Science (Slovenia)
- Food Safety Commission (Malta)
- International Life Science Institute (Belgium)
- Full title:
- Chemical food safety network for the enlarging Europe
- Contract n°:
- Project co-ordinator:
- Claudio Colosio,
International Centre for Pesticides
and Health Risk Prevention, Milan
- EC Scientific Officer:
- Alessio Vassarotti,
- EU contribution:
- € 557,000
- Specific Support Action