We are doing science for policy
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
Food needs to be nutritious, fresh and above all safe. Consumers should be able to have trust in the products they buy. Recent “food crises” such as dioxins in food and feed, mad cow disease, melamine in milk products, plasticisers in sport drinks and the contamination with enterohemorrhagic E. coli EHEC have emphasised the importance of safety in the food chain.
The JRC puts consumers’ health and food safety at the heart of its activities. Thanks to the scientific support provided by the JRC, laboratories in the EU Member States as well as in non-EU countries, have tools at hand that allow them to achieve reliable and comparable measurement results. In addition, control laboratories also have the possibility to check their performance through the JRC’s inter-laboratory comparison programmes in a wide range of analytical activities.
Consumers can therefore be reassured knowing that the food they purchase on the European market has been tested to the most appropriate standards before it reaches their plates.
The labelling of food products is essential to inform consumers what kind of products they are buying. EU harmonised rules on food labelling, presentation and advertising aim to protect consumers and facilitate trade inside and outside Europe.
Also, consumers need to be sure that what is written on the label of a product corresponds to its content. This is especially true for high-priced products such as wine or olive oil. It cannot always be taken for granted that when a certain geographical region is indicated on a bottle of wine, it really contains wine from this area. The same holds true for extra virgin olive oil.
Methods of analysis and quality assurance tools are needed in order to assure the authenticity of foodstuffs. The JRC provides, among others, certified reference materials and validated methods to support the authentication of various products. In addition, by hosting the European wine database, proof can be obtained if a sample is authentic or not.
Consumers spend a substantial amount of their income not only on products making their homes comfortable and clean, but also on personal care products such as cosmetics. To ensure the safety of these goods, measurements are necessary to verify that furniture does not emit harmful substances into the air we breathe or that cleaning products do not pose a risk to our health.
The JRC develops and validates methods for safety and quality assessments of consumer products and cosmetics, and provides the relevant control authorities with the necessary knowledge and monitoring tools.