Food safety in the food chain is a basis for effective functioning of national and international markets with trust and transparency. Food safety risks occur along the food chain from a number of biological and chemical contaminants. In addition, malpractices or fraudulent practices could also lead to increased food safety risks. Improving risk assessment and monitoring, including the use of big data, is of major importance. Developing integrated approaches along the entire food chain for detecting, assessing, and mitigating relevant pathogens and contaminant hazards is essential. It implies efficient food safety control systems, supported by reliable authentication and traceability approaches, being implemented across the entire food chain, focusing on the combination of hazard monitoring and control options in the specific stages of the food chain where the impact would be greater, or combinations of these at multiple stages. This is in particular challenging for SMEs which is a predominant entrepreneurial model across the agri-food sector, both in the EU and China.
Proposals should look at the development of an integrated approach for detecting, assessing and mitigating food safety risks from biological and chemical hazards (whether emerging or not) through the entire food chain/s (from primary production to consumers) and include common risks such as environmental contamination, process contamination, contamination through packaging and misuse or adulteration. They should tackle specific sector/s while taking into account the diversity of the supply chains within sector(s). The research activities should gather relevant data to assess risks and deliver practical solutions (technology and management related) in order to control those hazards and their combinations at specific stages of the food chain where interventions can deliver the most efficient and greatest possible impact on public health. Activities will develop detection and monitoring tools that will allow for the data collection, integration, validation and analysis. Proposals will establish and validate non-targeted and targeted rapid detection methods for the screening and identification of biological and chemical hazards. Special attention will be given to developing and/or improving systems ensuring process efficacy and validation for hazard control.
Proposed activities will encompass work within the food safety risk analysis framework while at the same time developing simple and practical decision support tools tailored towards the needs of agri-food sector (SMEs in particular) and scientific stakeholders. Proposals will fall under the concept of the 'multi-actor approach' and allow for the adequate involvement of SMEs and food safety control authorities. Proposals should include a task to cluster with other project/s financed under this topic and ensure complementarity with activities of EU-China-Safe project funded in response to the topic "SFS-45-2016: Increase overall transparency of processed agri-food products". Proposals shall promote balanced research and innovation cooperation between the EU and China. China-based entities that will participate in joint projects with European partners under Horizon 2020 have also the possibility to apply for funding under the Chinese co-funding mechanism.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution form the EU of up to EUR 4 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed properly. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. Contributions for Chinese participants will come in addition and will be made available by China.
Overall, activities will improve food safety control systems (implementation, inspection and controls) along the food chain.
In the short to medium term work will:
- Ensure and enhance the transparency and reliability of food safety along the entire food chain (including the e-commerce mean) with regard to international trade and internal EU and Chinese markets;
- Enhance the capacity of food SMEs and operators along the chain to detect, assess and mitigate food safety risks stemming from relevant pathogens, contaminant hazards and counterfeit food;
- Improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the controls performed by the food safety authorities along the food chain;
- Contribute to standard setting and regulatory cooperation in the EU and China.
In the longer term funded activities will increase food safety along the food chains in the EU and China.
Illustration Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) inspector examines a shipment imported frozen meat at the Port of New Orleans in New Orleans, LA on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013.(credits: USD photo by Anson Eaglin / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0))