FP6 food quality and safety projects take 'farm to fork' approach

October 23, 2003

Brussels, 22 Oct 2003

The Commission has published summaries of the first set of projects to be funded under the 'food quality and safety' priority of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).

Following an initial announcement in July of the call results, 36 projects have been awarded EU funding amounting to 166 million euro. The combination of projects selected reflect the Commission's goal of addressing quality and safety aspects of the complete food chain, from primary production feed production to consumption - the 'farm to fork' approach.

The approach starts with consumer health and well being. Many diseases and disorders prevalent in Europe today can be linked to diet, genetic make-up and lifestyle. Two projects - a concerted action (CA) and a specific targeted research project (STREP) - will tackle the issue of preventing human degenerative diseases, focusing specifically on the influence of nutrition and lifestyle on healthy ageing.

The first project aims to improve the understanding of how diet can promote healthy ageing. It is hoped that by coordinating research in this area, the project will help improve quality of life of the elderly; reduce public health costs through the prevention of nutrition-related diseases; and encourage the development of nutritionally-balanced food products specially designed for the elderly.

The second project will study the nutritional impact of zinc, an area where no focused research has been conducted thus far. Zinc is known to be a very beneficial nutrient that controls the development and function of the immune cells, and helps to maintain genomic integrity and stability. However, during ageing, the intake of zinc decreases due to inadequate diet and intestinal malabsorption, thus causing frailty, general disability and increased incidence of age-related degenerative diseases such as cancer and atherosclerosis. Zinc deficiency in the elderly will be evaluated and the results will form a rationale for the promotion of healthy ageing through a zinc supplementation, as well as the development of new zinc related anti-ageing drugs.

A number of projects selected for funding also identify and assess potential health risks associated with food processing methods. The focus of one project in particular is on the recently discovered health risks associated with hazardous compounds in heat-treated carbohydrate-rich foods, where substantial amounts of acrylamide and similar compounds can be formed. To assess the potential risks, the project will explore cooking and processing methods in industry and households with the aim of controlling and minimising the formation of hazardous compounds. Compounds such as acrylamide, unsaturated carbonyl compounds and furans, formed during heating, will be studied.

In addition to assuring health and well-being of European citizens through a better understanding of the influence of food intake and environmental factors on human health, the first set of projects also pays particular attention to improving animal welfare. In this context, one Integrated Project has been selected to develop robust on-farm welfare assessment methodologies, together with information frameworks and an array of targeted welfare improvements. By establishing a better dialogue between the farmers, consumers and scientists, it is hoped that production methods will be improved and animal welfare, as well as food quality, will be respected.

To obtain a full list of the projects, please consult the following web address:

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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