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.
Food contact materials comprise all materials and articles that come or are intended to come in contact with food, e.g. food packaging materials, kitchen utensils, tableware and food processing equipment. They can be made of different materials such as plastics, rubber, silicones, metals, ceramics, glass, paper and board, wood, cork, textiles, adhesives, coatings and printing inks.
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.
Eating habits can go a long way towards ensuring good health. Low consumption of fruits, vegetables or fibre, and excess intakes of salt, sugars, and trans and saturated fats are among the top contributors to death and disability caused by non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and certain forms of cancer.
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 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.