It sounds sustainable: tableware made of melamine with bamboo and maize added as innovative raw materials. But when this tableware turns out to be unsafe and everything has to be destroyed, sustainability is hard to find and safety is at stake. To prevent these kinds of incidents and to ensure a safe transition to a more sustainable food system, a new European platform has been set up: FoodSafety4EU.
Climate-neutral production, closing food cycles: the change to a circular economy requires new agreements, legislation and risk assessments to guarantee food safety. Sometimes the current European food safety system fails in this transition. Not enough communication between science, politics and society can lead to mistakes. Food safety is a top priority for the European Commission, but cooperation between the EU countries could be better and is a crucial aspect for the success of a new, safe food system.
For that reason Wageningen University & Research will become part of the FoodSafety4EU platform funded by the European Union, together with 22 other research institutes and 44 stakeholders such as food and commodities authorities, consumer associations and research centres.
Quickly identify problems and start research smoothly
Researchers, policymakers, industry and consumers can find each other easily on the platform, in order to quickly identify problems with food safety and to start research quickly. "Inspection services can quickly be brought into contact with researchers all over Europe on the platform", says Niels van der Linden, one of the researchers involved from WUR. "And the researchers can exchange data with each other more quickly."
With the help of new digital tools, data and scientific sources are easily accessible on the platform. And not only for researchers and stakeholders: consumers also have a justified need to know whether their products are safe. That is why everyone gains insight into the processes and analyses on the platform from consumers to policy makers.
Maximum European cooperation
How do we prevent recycled packaging from being dangerous? How safe is food if less pesticides are allowed to be used? The goals of FoodSafety4EU are safe products and food, synchronization of strategies on this and responding to signals from society faster and more transparently.
FoodSafety4EU will be a network that focuses on maximum European cooperation with input from society. On which policy and decisions to finance projects will be based. The network is expected to grow into an operational and permanent forum within three years.
The role of the Food, Quality & Design department and the LAW group of Wageningen University & Research is a/o to map out how inspection services deal with the new risks of our time and how these are communicated to society. The researchers will provide advice on how to do this more efficiently.