The European Union-funded ‘Monitoring and quality assurance in the total food supply chain’ (MONIQA) project has developed a set of reliable tools and methods to assess the safety and quality of foods EU customers consume. The project was backed with over 12 million euros.


Kicked off in 2007 and due to end in 2012, MONIQA is coordinated by the International Association for Cereal Science and Technology in Austria, and brings together key research and industry experts from Europe, Asia, and Oceania.


The project is under the ‘Food quality and safety’ Thematic area of the EU’s Sixth Framework Program, offers a database of food quality and safety issues, as well as analytical tools for food production and the supply chain.


The MONIQA consortium is made up of 33 organizations from Europe and abroad and is focused on harmonizing global food quality and safety monitoring and control strategies.


The MONIQA partners say one of the database’s fundamental components is the EU Rapid Alert System, a pivotal tool in the EU’s drive to guarantee food safety by enabling a fast yet effective exchange of information between Member States and the European Commission when risks to human health are detected in the food and feed chain, reported Before It’s News.


The database comprises comprehensive lists of contaminants and commodities in which these contaminants may pose a food-chain threat. These lists are linked with the data sources. The partners explain that Rapid Alert System data was first used to establish the basic structure of the database; more data has since been added with results from MONIQA.


These results include methods currently used by MONIQA partners to identify and quantify hazards or contaminants, information on national food regimes, and a report archive, as well as report-based information on food quality and safety challenges.


EU Rapid Alert System data has already been converted into a database that is 100 percent searchable and relational, thanks to the project partners. Users can look for Rapid Alert System notifications by commodity, contaminant, country of origin, and/or reporting countries.


The partners say broad groupings of contaminants covered by the Rapid Alert System were used to establish the contaminant categories in the database, as were groupings where EU legislation governing maximum permissible levels in food or feed exists.


The commodities list was first based on legislation governing pesticide maximum residue levels but was extended to include specific fruits or vegetables where contaminant legislation specifically exists or which regularly crop up in the Rapid Alert System.


Later, animal products and key corresponding legislation were included in the database as well.


In early June the second international MONIQA conference was held in Krakow, Poland where participants formed a multidisciplinary bridge between the concerns of food and nutrition science and the socioeconomic impact of food hazards.