archive image

European Commission

Food Quality and Safety in Europe banner

Food Quality and Safety in Europe



Europeans are concerned about the food they eat, in particular its quality and safety. When asked what things come to mind when thinking about possible risks associated with food, respondents in a recent European survey came up with more than 20 key words. Answers ranged from chemicals, pesticides and toxic substances to bacteria, pollution and lack of sanitary controls - to mention just a few.

What is now being demonstrated by well over a dozen research institutions from all over the world, is that new irrigation patterns can not only increase wateruse efficiency but also the quality of vegetable crops. Vegetables are a very important part of one's diet, and the negative consequences of not eating enough soon become apparent.

The modern consumer's strong interest in high-quality food coincides with clean, fresh water becoming a limited resource. However, recent innovations in the watertreatment and irrigation industry have shown potential for the use of low-quality water resources, such as rivers and other surface water, for the irrigation of vegetable crops - without jeopardising food safety and quality.


The use of clean, fresh water for crop irrigation is in fierce competition with the demand for household consumption, as well as with the need to protect the quality of aquatic ecosystems. At the same time, scientific and other stakeholder organisations are currently putting a strong focus on food quality and safety. New production standards and increasing competition in the world market requires the food industry to be highly productive and efficient.


The SAFIR project has been developed in order to deal with the issues of better food quality and new irrigation systems. Three important objectives have been envisaged: new irrigation systems; quality and safety of fresh and processed food from 'farm to fork; and the feasibility and applications of the system to the food production sector, through the identification of the financial and economic aspects, and institutional and consumer barriers.

A Decision Support System is being developed for the on-farm management of water resources. A range of dissemination activities addressing national and EU authorities, commercial stakeholders from the food sector and farmers' organisations are also on the agenda. For the development of the new irrigation system, the project is taking into account findings from other EU-funded projects.

SAFIR is addressing an urgent need. It actively helps develop irrigation management and water-saving technology for the production of high-quality and safe vegetable crops by using low-quality water resources. This is an important contribution to the protection of our environment and to the safety and quality of the vegetables we eat.

List of Partners

  • University of Aarhus (Denmark)
  • Consorzio di Bonifica di II grado per il Canale Emiliano Romagnolo (Italy)
  • Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University (Denmark)
  • Natural Environment Research Council, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UK)
  • Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (France)
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (UK)
  • Institute of Food and Resource Economics (Denmark)
  • DHI Water and Environment (Denmark)
  • DHI Water and Environment (Denmark)
  • Swiss Federal Institute of Food Economics (Switzerland)
  • Polish Academy of Sciences, Franciszek Gorski Institute of Plant Physiology (Poland)
  • University of Belgrade, Faculty of Agriculture (Serbia and Montenegro)
  • China Agricultural University (China)
  • Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (China)
  • Netafim (Israel)
  • Stazione Sperimentale per l'Industria delle Conserve Alimentari (Italy)
  • Grundfos Management (Denmark)
Full title:
Safe and high quality food production using low quality waters and improved irrigation systems and management
Contract n°:
Project co-ordinator:
Finn Plauborg, University of Aarhus,
EC Scientific Officer:
Massimo Burioni,
EU contribution:
€ 4.7M
Specific Targeted Research Project

Back to list

Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top