Brussels, 15 Mar 2005
With food safety a major priority in Europe, some third countries have expressed the fear that this issue could become a new trade barrier, preventing imports from countries that cannot offer absolute assurance that their produce is organic, dioxin-free, or not genetically modified.
The European Commission is therefore funding a four-year project aimed at helping Asia, one of the Europe's largest trade partners, to mirror the EU's standards of food quality and meet the demands of the European market.
The SELAMAT project, which means safety in Malay, is funded as a Specific Support Action (SSA) under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) and will create a network for international co-operation on food safety issues between Europe and Asia.
'The network has identified three research topics linked to ensuring liberal trade: the impact of food on health, the traceability of food along the whole food chain, and methods of detecting contaminants. If food products can be tested, certified and traced using common methods in both Europe and Asia, then European consumers and regulators will have very few problems with Asian food,' explain the project partners.
Each of these issues will be addressed in a series of annual workshops. A final workshop in year four will look into the agenda for joint Asia-Europe research on food safety.
At first the network will only comprise a small group of partners: three European food research institutes and a Chinese research centre specialising in pesticides. Further down the line, partners will introduce other organisations and it is hoped up to 60 could be involved after four years, including core members of relevant FP6 projects. In this way, progress made during FP6 will be communicated to the Asian members so they can spread the knowledge into their local industries.
'SELAMAT is the start of a global co-operation on food safety that is necessary for the success of international trade in an age when food production is becoming increasingly technological, and the health and safety of eating is a major item on the political agenda,' conclude the partners.
For further information about SELAMAT please visit: