There are an estimated 34.5 million cases of food poisoning within the EU every year, which represents an unacceptable social (human suffering) and economic (health care and lost working days) cost. Food safety assurance is traditionally retrospective, relying on random testing of the finished product. This may be unreliable and gives no real information about the safety of the food in question at the time of consumption. Risk analysis is a new, proactive, preventative approach to food safety and is becoming the new cornerstone in producing safe, acceptable food. Risk analysis may be divided into risk assessment, risk management and risk communication.
- To establish an EU risk assessment information network and database where researchers, epidemiologists, etc. can pool data for subsequent application in microbial risk assessment. Although primarily targeted at EU scientists, this database will be web-based and therefore accessible to the entire international community and may accommodate data from non-participating European and other countries.
- To focus on catering as the current weak link in risk assessment data and identify risk assessment research priorities for the future by establishing other areas of the food chain where the necessary microbial data is lacking.
- To develop HACCP-based risk management strategies through the development of harmonised, farm, meat, retail and catering HACCP procedures/systems for horizontal application within a given sector of the food chain but which may also be vertically integrated to form a HACCP control system covering the entirety of the food chain.
- To review epidemiological methodologies and data in relation to food poisoning with particular focus on its application in risk assessment.
- To develop risk communication strategies for consumers, scientists and regulators based on the psychological and marketing sciences including such issues as perceptions of risk and current consumer food safety knowledge.
- To identify gaps in knowledge and to determine the research needs to reduce these and to further ensure the future implementation of tools developed during this concerted action. These identified research needs will be widely published by all possible means.
This project will provide a database and data for microbial risk assessment from farm to fork, with particular emphasis on epidemiological data and catering. It will publish detailed HACCP based risk management guidance documents for farm HACCP, beef, pork and lamb slaughter and processing HACCP, retail and catering HACCP as well as a HACCP based guide for domestic kitchens. EU-RAIN will also provide the scientific basis for effective risk communication between consumers, food industry personnel, scientists and regulators. These will be achieved by the Concerted Action members and invited experts at 6 meetings/conferences where data will be presented and discussed.