Food safety and security are high priority issues for the European Union at present and are at the core of current concerns of citizens, media and academics. With few exceptions, academic research on food has been fragmented, with too little interaction between food scientists, health researchers and social scientists.
© Fotolia, 2012
With the support of a European Research Council's Advanced Grant, Professor Peter Jackson aims to take forward previous findings regarding the socially embedded nature of contemporary food choice and to understand better contemporary consumer anxiety.
The first phase of this ERC-funded project aimed at explaning the extend to wich consumers' anxieties shape all points of the contemporary food systems along the supply chain ("from the farm to the fork"). This includes considering various issues, from international food security, domestic food hygiene to public health and doing so at a range of geographical scales, from international food markets to individual households.
The "proof of concept" grant he received from the ERC in October 2011 will help Prof Jackson to go a step further in making recommendations on a wider range of topics, from quality and provenance of food, to innovations in food labelling, marketing and consumer practice (see press release).
The project will test the market for these new ideas with a view to providing consultancy services to various groups (manufacturers, retaillers, food service organisations and agencies) so that they are better equipped to interpret and respond to consumers' concerns about health and food safety when developing new products.
It could eventually also lead to tangible effects in terms of public health, including the reduction of obesity, diabetes and coronary heart disease.