To improve food safety and fight food fraud, the European Horizon 2020 programme and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology have awarded €10 million to the joint project ‘EU-China-Safe’. Wageningen University & Research is leading the food authenticity sub-project, part one of the world’s largest food safety projects between the EU and China.
Food fraud is a global problem. The number of reported cases is increasing and food fraud costs non-fraudulent producers around $52 billion a year worldwide. Some example of food fraud include the Dutch horsemeat scandal in 2013, and the ‘gutter oil’ affair in China in 2014.
Reducing food fraud
Reducing food fraud and increasing food safety requires an international approach. The EU-China-Safe project will contribute by improving legislation and inspections, and stimulating information exchange between the two continents. “Through the use of modern technology, including a virtual laboratory, we can create a unique opportunity for demonstrating and sharing best practices,” says Professor Van Ruth of Wageningen University & Research and coordinator of the food authenticity sub-project. In addition, the detection of food fraud will be improved via innovative technologies, and result in a greater traceability of products and more transparency in the global food chain.
The food authenticity sub-project, led by Wageningen University & Research, consists of two segments. The first involves research into the causes of food fraud and the factors that play a role therein. The second focuses on developing new fraud detection methods and sharing them with participating organisations in the project. In both cases, the research zooms in on spices, processed meat, baby food, organic vegetables and wine.
The consortium, which comprises 33 partners from the food industry, research organisations and governments, is led in Europe by Queen’s University in Northern Ireland (Professor Elliot) and in China by the China National Centre for Food Safety Risk Assessment (Professor Wu).