archive image

European Commission

Food Quality and Safety in Europe banner

Food Quality and Safety in Europe



Food contamination represents a threat for consumer protection. To minimise the effects of a possible contamination incident, the General Food Law of January 1st 2006 (178/2002) introduced , for the first time, a responsibility for traceability of all products for food and feed producers (Section 4, Articles 18-20). BIOTRACER is improving the biotraceability of unintended micro-organisms and their substances in food and feed chains, as well as in bottled water, to strengthen further the level of consumer protection.


BIOTRACER is developing recommendations for controlling the risk of any possibility of food contamination with microbes, through the integration of novel genomic and metabolimic data, resulting in a better understanding of the physiology of contaminating micro-organisms.

Current methods for microbial analyses, including genotyping, are time-consuming and do not provide all the necessary information for assessing the potential virulence of food borne pathogens. The BIOTRACER team have taken up this challenge and are creating analytical models in order to understand the mechanisms of contamination. They are also developing biomarkers that indicate the quantity of pathogenic microbes across the food and feed chains. The project is studying the main micro-organisms responsible for contaminating food, which represent a potential risk for consumer's health. Examples include Salmonella in pigs, Listeria in dairy products, Campylobacter in chickens, toxins in feed, and other bacteria and viruses in bottled water.

BIOTRACER is identifying the most relevant contamination scenarios and critical points in the whole food chain, quantifying the likely impacts on food safety through various food chain models. For example, 'Virtual Contamination Scenarios', based on characteristics of agents and transmission vehicles, are being developed to facilitate recommendations for improved risk control in the case of bioterror attack.


A better understanding of the contamination threats helps the consortium to develop newer, faster and more reliable test systems, allowing operators to put into practice efficient tracing tools within their particular link of the food and feed chains.

BIOTRACER provides guidelines and scientific advice to European authorities and agencies but also helps industry to improve its compliance with the food sector's strict health and safety regulations. The project involves experts from European and INCO (International Cooperation) countries, since cooperation with non-EU food producing nations is vital for the importation of safe and high quality food into the EU.

A major midterm goal for the project is the establishment of a 'Virtual Traceability Institute', securing a sustainable RTD structure for traceability research. The project contributes to new standards by producing laboratory protocols such as quantitative tests, that can be incorporated into the European Commission Regulations for Microbial Criteria for Foods.

It is important to ensure that the project's results are widely disseminated. End-users will apply the developed methods and models, industry partners will extend their portfolios and quality procedures and control processes, and academic partners will improve their level of knowledge.

The major outcome of BIOTRACER will be the development of an efficient tracing system, making a major contribution to improving the consumer's wellbeing and to restoring trust in European agriculture and food sectors.

List of Partners

  • Danish Institute for Food and Veterinary Research (Denmark)
  • University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Austria)
  • Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, (Denmark)
  • University of Lund (Sweden)
  • Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias (Spain)
  • University of Ljubljana (Slovania)
  • Free University of Berlin (Germany)
  • University of Bern (Switzerland)
  • University of Regensburg (Germany)
  • Technical University of Munich (Germany)
  • University of Helsinki (Finland)
  • Institute of Chemical Technology Prague (Czech Republic)
  • University of Manchester (UK)
  • Agricultural University of Athens (Greece)
  • Wageningen University and Research Centre (The Netherlands)
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (UK)
  • University of Galati (Romania)
  • Prevas (Sweden)
  • Thomsen Bioscience (Denmark)
  • SmartGene Services (Switzerland)
  • Check-Points (The Netherlands)
  • HUGIN Expert (Denmark)
  • Glantreo (Ireland)
  • Moorepark Food Research Centre Research (Ireland)
  • National Veterinary Institute (Sweden)
  • Agence Francaise de Sécurité Sanitaire des Aliments (France)
  • Istituto Superiore di Sanità (Italy)
  • Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung (Germany)
  • RIKILT-Institute of Food Safety (The Netherlands)
  • National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (The Netherlands)
  • Food Research Institute (Slovakia)
  • Lithuanian Veterinary Academy (Lithuania)
  • Institute of Food Research (UK)
  • Norwegian Food Research Institute (Norway)
  • Embrapa Food Technology (Brazil)
  • Gadjah Mada University (Indonesia)
  • The Russian Academy of Sciences (Russia)
  • Danish Meat Research Institute (Denmark)
  • Statens Serum Institute (Denmark)
  • Nestec (Switzerland)
  • VION Food Group (The Netherlands)
  • Svenska Foder (Sweden)
  • Centre National Interprofessionel de l'Economie Laitière (France)
  • Nutrition Sciences (Belgium)
  • COOP ITALIA (Italy)
  • Joint Stock Company Agaras (Lithuania)
Full title:
Improved bio-traceability of unintended micro-organisms and their substances in food and feed chains
Contract n°:
Project co-ordinator:
Jeffrey Hoorfar, Danish Institute for Food and Veterinary Research,
EC Scientific Officer:
Judit Krommer,
EU contribution:
€ 11M
Integrated Project

Back to list

Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top