Brussels, 20 Jan 2004
Supplying safer, healthier, better seafood
This week, the EU will unveil a far-reaching €25 million 'integrated research project', SEAFOODplus, covering all aspects of this important sector, including health, safety, ethics, environment and economics.
Research underscores the importance of tracking food from the (aqua)farm to the fork
On 22 January, a new integrated project on seafood health, safety and quality will be formally launched. The aim of the research will be to reduce the health problems and diseases associated with seafood/fish farming and production.
Food safety has been a major issue at the European level since a number of food scares – such as mad cow's disease affecting meat in the UK and dioxin contamination in the whole food chain in Belgium – came to light.
Through its Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) for research, the Commission has come up with a useful tool – the so-called integrated projects instrument – for tackling the multiple facets of such a complex research topic.
The SEAFOODplus integrated project will focus on five strategic clusters, taking into account the various elements in the seafood chain, namely the ethics of fish farming, consumer needs, environmental and sustainability issues, as well as ways of improving the production process and better using by-products. A sixth topic area will focus on the problems of seafood traceability, the much-talked about 'farm to fork' principle in tracking food from its origins to the consumer table.
A drop in the ocean
The EU's contribution to the project – through FP6's priority 5 'food quality and safety' – will cover some 55% of the €26 million total budget. Among the 70 partners from 16 European countries in the consortium are representatives from industry, academia and commerce – especially small-and medium-sized companies.
Heading up the integrated project, which kicked off on 1 January and will last four and half years, is Professor Torger Børresen, a well-respected Danish fisheries scientist. He will be supported by a council of 12 experts responsible for the many sub-projects within the overall research project.
Thursday's official launch of the project at the Borschette Centre in Brussels will be an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of seafood in Europe. High-level representatives from the Commission will speak about the EU's research initiatives involving seafood, which will be followed by several presentations, including 'seafood and nutrition', 'seafood and consumer behaviour and well being', 'seafood from aquaculture' and ending with a discussion on the project's broad-reaching scientific programme.