The JRC carries out research in a wide variety of fields. Located across five sites throughout the EU, seven research institutes work in the areas of agriculture and food security, energy and transport, environment and climate change, health and consumer protection, information society, safety and security, innovation and growth, measurements and standards, and nuclear safety and security.
The labeling of food products is essential to inform consumers what kind of products they are buying. EU harmonised rules on food labeling, presentation and advertising aim to protect consumers and facilitate trade inside and outside Europe.
Recently an initiative of the European Parliament (EP) has identified a number of foods such as: olive oil, fish, honey, dairy products and meat as being the target of fraudulent activities. This initiative calls for the development of technologies and methods to detect food fraud.
The 'Chocolate Directive' allows the addition of up to 5 % of vegetable fats other than cocoa butter, the so-called cocoa butter equivalents (CBEs), in chocolate. If CBEs are added, consumers have to be informed by appropriate labelling. EU member states' laws, regulations and administrative provisions have had to comply with the Chocolate Directive since August 2003.
Food scares have increased consumer awareness in all aspects of food safety and quality. As a result, consumers have increasingly preferences with respect to agricultural practices and geographical origin.
The JRC works closely with other European Commission services, relevant national organisations, the World Health Organisation (WHO) to maintain a high level of public health protection, covering areas such as cancer policy support, nutrition and air quality.
Good health care requires reliable measurements of health status markers, mainly in blood samples. Such In-Vitro Diagnostics measurements need to be comparable over different hospitals and countries, and over time. The JRC performs pre-normative research, develops reference materials and methods, and coordinates the input from the medical profession and industry for the standardisation process. The JRC contributes to regulatory initiatives from the European Commission, and to documentary standards from e.g. the International Standards Organisation.
The certified reference materials distributed by the JRC give measurement laboratories a means to validate analytical methods, to assess the quality of the measurement results and to demonstrate their traceability to stated references such as the SI units. Over the years, the JRC has developed a broad variety of food related reference materials covering a wide range of analyte/matrix combinations.
For the implementation of the European legislation that regulates the authorisation and the labelling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the JRC develops, produces and distributes certified reference materials. These CRMs are used for the calibration or quality control of GMO quantification measurements.
The regular occurrence of food borne pathogen related outbreaks in the EU, the ongoing struggle with pathogens in health care and public health as well as the security threat related to the potential misuse of pathogens emphasise the need for an adequate and reliable monitoring system and preparedness against these risks. Consequently the JRC is aiming at maintaining a high level of quality of the measurements which have to be carried out in this context by developing and providing suitable quality assurance tools, such as reference materials, and measurement techniques.