Putting food safety at the top of the research menu
In Europe, today, we are fortunate. In the space of a generation, our diets have become more varied and diverse, with ingredients and dishes from all over the continent and the world. The food on our plates has never been safer, with high-tech quality control tools complementing tough European and national legislation.
Nevertheless, in recent years, a series of high-profile food scares – including mad cow disease (BSE), dioxins and salmonella – has shaken consumer confidence. Since then, the European Commission has been working hard to regain consumer trust and protect public health.
Trust in food chain
The EU and its Member States are committed to making sure that the food European citizens consume is as safe and healthy as possible. This requires a holistic approach that encapsulates the entire food chain from ‘fork to farm’.
This necessitates efficient and effective cross-border scientific and legislative co-operation. In fact, quality and safety has grown into a significant sector in European research and food production. It is one of the seven thematic priorities of the EU’s current Sixth Framework Programme (FP6 2002-2006) and is set to become an important component of the upcoming FP7 (2007-2013).
This leaflet introduces some of the important research the Union is funding in this critically important field.
Food for thought on an enlarged EU
- The Union’s population has risen to 454 million from 380 million
- The number of farmers has gone up by 10 million to 17 million
- European food and drink industry has an annual turnover of around €800 billion and employs 4.1 million people
- European households spend about 13% of their average household expenditure on food
- The EU’s Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) is investing €750 million in food quality and safety research