Headed by the University of the West of England (UWE) in the UK, the project, which includes eight institutions from seven countries, studies the genetic aspects of food quality to improve safety standards.

Dr Olena Doran, who is leading the research team, said: 'This project is a successful development of a previous EU project on food quality and food safety by UWE which involved 20 organisations from 12 countries.

'We are bringing together international expertise to develop new effective tools and approaches for the improvement of food quality. The partners' experience and facilities will be used to create and develop an international genetics and food quality network which would ensure sustainable international collaboration and long-term training schemes for both young scientists and senior staff.'

Called EXCELMEAT, the initiative is a Marie Curie Actions International Research Staff Exchange Scheme, funded under the People Programme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). The project brings together multidisciplinary expertise from many fields including the UK's Institute of Bio-sensing Technology (IBST), the Centre for Research in Biomedicine, and the Centre for Research in Analytical Materials and Sensor Technology.

'One of the aspects of this project is to improve the quality of pork, which is the most popular meat in Europe; it can be cured and made into the delicacies such as Parma ham in Italy and chorizo in Spain. The impact of our work is far reaching as it is anticipated to influence EU policies related to farm animals/meat production.'

Joining the UK team are scientists from the Institute of Food and Technology Research (Spain), Iowa State University (US), the University of Bologna (Italy), the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, the Institute for Pig Breeding (Ukraine) and the University of Leuven (Belgium).

More information on the Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) action