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Food Quality and Safety in Europe



Twenty-eight European organisations have joined forces to create and test a new food traceability system that would provide objective and reliable information along the entire food chain. By amalgamating emerging and existing technologies into a single framework, the TRACEBACK project aims to create the ideal system in which to establish an information link from a product's raw material stage to its eventual sale.

Not only does this herald improved health and safety standards for the consumer, it signals a practical and cost-effective model for industry players. The system will assist them to meet food regulation requirements and allow them to trace their product (and gauge its quality) along the chain of production, manufacturing, handling, transportation and distribution.


The goal of the project is to establish an innovative traceability system through the implementation of microdevices based on microarrays and technologies embedded in a lab-on-a-chip. In order to ensure the product is widely accepted as a routine system by the industry, the TRACEBACK team have developed goals for the project with the pragmatic needs of stakeholders (covering the gamut of the food chain, from the producer to the retailer) in mind.

As such, a key driver is the development of an information management system compatible with existing technology - that is, without the burden of changing the technology currently operating in the field. This service-oriented infrastructure model is further supplemented by the aim to keep costs to a minimum.

Since traceability expenses normally account for between 1 and 2 percent of product costs, the project proposes to make use of inexpensive internet-based technology, and intends to continually assess the cost of the project's results as well as consider novel ways to use this system at its greatest potential. The TRACEBACK consortium is also committed to providing an extensive training programme to support food chain stakeholders during the final implementation phase.


Along with the TRACEBACK participants themselves, small and medium-sized food enterprises will test the research results in two representative models: feed/ dairy and tomato (both dominant chains of the agrofood sector). The project partners view pilot testing as a preliminary activity of exploitation; the participants will test the model and provide feedback and, once they are aware of the results, will be further recruited for their input from organisational and innovation perspectives.

The European agro-food industry is the largest manufacturing sector in Europe, transforming over 70 percent of the European Union's agricultural raw materials and supporting some 280 000 companies. As such, the absence of traceability procedures can have severe consequences. The TRACEBACK system will make it possible to prevent food chain crises (such as those evidenced in recent years), and allow the consumer to make more informed choices regarding the producers of the goods on their supermarket shelves. This, in turn, can significantly hinder the flow of inferior food and encourage quality and competitiveness throughout the European sector.

List of Partners

  • Tecnoalimenti (Italy)
  • Asociaciòn de investigaciòn de la Industria Agroalimentaria (Spain)
  • Atos Origin Sociedad anònima espanola (Spain)
  • Engineering Ingegneria Informatica (Italy)
  • University of Kent (UK)
  • Institute of Logistics and Warehousing (Poland)
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Faculty of Alnarp (Sweden)
  • University of Parma (Italy)
  • Combined European Management and Transportation (Italy)
  • City University London, Centre for HCI Design (UK)
  • Consiglio nazionale delle Ricerche, Istituto di Chimica del Riconoscimento Molecolare (Italy)
  • CONSUM Sociedad Cooperativa Valenciana (Spain)
  • Institut für Agrar und Stadtökologische Projecte an der Humboldt, Universität zu Berlin, Träger: A.S.P.e.V.(Germany)
  • Max Plank Society for the Advancement of Science represented by the Max Plank Institute for Polymer Research (Germany)
  • MTT Agrifood Research Finland (Finland)
  • Teagasc Agriculture & Food Development Authority (Ireland)
  • Selex Communications (Italy)
  • SGS ICS Ibérica (Spain)
  • Federalimentare (Italy)
  • Akdeniz University, Economic Research Center on Mediterranean Countries (Turkey)
  • Scuola Superiore ISUFI, eBusiness Management Section, University of Lecce (Italy)
  • Centiv (Germany)
  • NSCE (Egypt)
  • KBS (France)
  • Parmalat (Italy)
  • Technobiochip (Italy)
  • Transformaciones Agricolas de Badajoz (Spain)
  • Regionalna Wielkopolska Izba Rolno - Przemyslowa (Poland)
Full title:
Integrated system for a reliable traceability of food supply chains
Contract n°:
Project co-ordinator:
Ethel De Paoli, Tecnoalimenti S.C.p.A.,
EC Scientific Officer:
Judith Krommer,
EU contribution:
€ 9.7M
Integrated Project

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Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top