A joined-up approach to the identification, assessment and management of emerging food safety hazards and associated risks

01 October 2022 → 30 September 2026
European funding: framework programme
Research disciplines
  • Engineering and technology
    • Other biotechnology, bio-engineering and biosystem engineering not elsewhere classified
  • Agricultural and food sciences
    • Food microbiology
    • Food packaging, preservation and safety
    • Agricultural, veterinary and food sciences not elsewhere classified
food safety risk assessement emerging hazards food system
Other information
Project description

In Europe, each year foodborne hazards, including bacteria, parasites, toxins (chemical hazards) and allergens, already cause some 23 million cases of illnesses and 5000 deaths1 ; the European citizen is not fully confident or trusting when it comes to food supply systems. These systemic weaknesses triggered by isolated events such as a zoonotic agent or a carcinogenic mycotoxin will be heavily compounded in the years to come by climate change, a shift in our food system towards a more plant-based diet, and the need for a recircular economy. Zoonoses and extreme weather events in Europe in 2021, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, have shone a spotlight on the underlying vulnerability of our global food systems2 ; they are a wakeup call that must be heeded. Food safety management systems established over the past decades in European farming and food businesses, and in European food safety governance need to be adapted to make them more robust towards changes affecting our global food systems, resulting in proactive risk management that can make the EU food system future-proof. CHALLENGE: Despite significant investment to date into food safety research, there is still a great need for next level measures to improve the safety (and security) of our food, which is under pressure by a range of drivers: climate change, emerging raw materials and recircular economy to obtain a more sustainable food system, increase in susceptible population groups in our European population and dietary changes, to mention a few. In particular, global warming effects are multilevel drivers and accelerate the (co-)emergence of bacteria and natural toxins in food crops and food systems. The complexity of drivers of foodborne hazards calls for improved cooperation across the (international) food system and for the adoption of novel techniques including big data and digital technology, to enable evidence-based and future-proof Data-Driven risk management. MEASURE: As we set out on Horizon Europe, as Europe strives to fulfil its Green Deal, and as post-Covid rebuilding and recovery advances, we are now at a crossroads for driving a food system transformation that builds resilience at all levels. Central to this is the ‘identification, assessment and management of existing and emerging food safety issues’ as called for in HORIZON-CL6-2021-FARM2FORK-01-16. The FoodSafeR multi actor consortium brings together research, industry, FBOs, (tech) SMEs, authorities and civil society organisationsin a ‘joined up approach’ for the development of future-proof tools, based on cutting edge science and organised within a set of case studies on selected (emerging) food hazards. End users and stakeholders are heavily involved to enable proactive risk management using a holistic view, innovative analytics, Big Data and Machine Learning approaches, and a groundbreaking multiple criteria decision making process. COOPERATION: The FoodsafeR partners are identifying novel challenges in cooperation with stakeholder organisations, industry, partners from academia, as well as research institutes with reference functions and food competent authorities. A ‘joined up approach’ means that involvement in FoodsafeR is not restricted to our consortium only. On the contrary, we must address these challenges by building on and adding value to previous and ongoing EU- and other projects in the area of food safety, such as Foodsafety4EU, EU-China-Safe, MyToolbox, PHOTONFOOD, PROMISE, amongst others, who are committed to collaborate with FoodSafeR. OUTREACH: The project output drives forward a sustainable and enduring ‘transformation of the food systems to deliver co-benefits for climate (mitigation and adaptation), environmental sustainability and circularity, dietary shift, sustainable healthy nutrition and safe food, food poverty reduction and empowerment of communities, and thriving businesses.’ An integrated approach to include food regulators and competent authorities is at the heart of FoodSafeR, enabling the use of its outputs to support current transformations of risk management globally. This eminent outreach is secured by close collaboration with a unique international Advisory Board spanning global dimensions, which will also serve as hubs for FoodSafeR to anticipate and mitigate future food crises.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Executive Agency (REA). Neither the European Union nor the authority can be held responsible for them.