Three new FP6 projects set to improve food quality and safety in Europe

February 5, 2004

Brussels, 04 Feb 2004

The EU has provided 43 million euro of funding under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) to three new projects under Priority 5 -' Food Quality and Safety'.

The projects, one Network of Excellence, NUGO, and two Integrated Projects, SAFE FOOD and WELFARE QUALITY, are the first major FP6 activities taking the 'fork to farm' approach and addressing both consumer concerns and market demands.

EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin explained that 'these new projects bring together researchers from Europe and beyond on an unprecedented scale and with ambitious goals.' Many of the activities carried out within the three projects will contribute to the strengthening of the European Research Area (ERA); these include the internal web-tool supporting dialogue and knowledge exchange on research topics and results, and the training of researchers in other countries. Overall, these projects afford Europe a clear opportunity to reinforce European competitiveness in the field of food quality and safety.

The two Integrated Projects, SAFE FOOD (Promoting food safety through a new integrated risk analysis approach to foods) and WELFARE QUALITY (Integration of animal welfare in the food quality chain: From public concern to improved welfare and transparent quality), deal with the increasingly high profile and closely linked issues of animal welfare and food safety.

Recent food safety scares and the introduction of genetically modified foods in Europe have resulted in an intense public debate regarding the safety of the European food supply. Consumers have little confidence in the safety of their food supply and remain doubtful and suspicious of the management procedures in place.

At the same time, food quality is not only determined by the overall nature and safety of the end product, but also by the perceived welfare status of the animals from which the food is produced. The fact that improving an animal's welfare can positively affect product quality, pathology and disease resistance also has a direct bearing on food quality and safety.

Both projects aim to restore consumer confidence while improving the quality of food by stimulating the development of sustainable production systems.

The SAFE FOOD project will design a new integrated risk analysis approach to foods to be tested by all stakeholders. The new framework will strengthen the competitiveness of European breeding and food production industries, including SMEs, and help restore consumer confidence in the safety and wholesomeness of the food supply. The inclusion of participants from other continents (South Africa and China) in the project, also adds real value to the programme, putting it in the position of developing new risk analysis strategies at global level.

The WELFARE QUALITY project is designed to develop European standards for on-farm welfare assessment and product information systems, as well as practical strategies for improving animal welfare. The focus is on analysing and addressing the perceptions of consumers, retailers and producers with regard to animal welfare. This will contribute to the diversification and societal sustainability of farm animal production in Europe.

The third project, NUGO (European NutriGenomics Organisation linking genomics, nutrition and health), has been set up to provide a network to integrate and develop genomic technologies for the benefit of European nutritional science, to facilitate the application of these technologies and to train a new generation of European scientists to use them.

Strengthening scientific and technological excellence by integrating the critical mass of resources and expertise needed to establish European leadership in nutrigenomics is the main objective of the project.

For more information on SAFE FOOD, please contact: the project coordinator:
Dr Harry Kuiper
E-mail: harry.kuiper@wur.nl


For more information on WELFARE QUALITY, please contact:
Dr Harry Blokhuis
E-mail: h.j.blokhuis@id.wag-ur.nl


For more information on NUGO, please visit:
http://www.nugo.org

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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