The European Commission has launched a funding call for help to support food safety systems of the future.

Proposals must aim to develop a research and innovation platform for collaboration across food safety stakeholders in Europe. This should involve national food safety authorities, EU agencies, policymakers, scientists and society.

Outcomes of the Commission’s project will be to map food safety research and innovation in different member states and associated countries, strengthen such capacity to ensure food safety standards in Europe, reduce the overlap between national and EU funding in food safety research and creation of a Food Safety Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) to address consumers’ expectations, emerging technologies and policy priorities.

Such a platform will also help new approaches to communicate on food safety and risk assessment procedures. Deadline for applications is Jan. 22, 2020.

Look at food safety system of the future
The Commission believes proposals requesting €3 million ($3.3 million) from the EU would allow the challenge to be addressed but those wanting other amounts would be considered.

The EU evidence-based food safety framework is based on the General Food Law, which introduced the risk analysis principle to underpin food safety policy making.

“Recent consumer concerns on the transparency of the process of safety assessment of our foods as well as technological developments and innovations have shown that there is a need to reflect on the EU food safety system of the future,” according to the project brief.

The challenge is to bring different food safety stakeholders together to ensure the science and infrastructures needed to support evidence-based policies of the future will be available.

This funding and tender opportunity is part of Horizon 2020, an EU research and innovation program.

Twenty organizations are listed as looking for collaborating partners on the topic including U.K.-based Dale Farms, Freshfel Europe, which represents the EU fresh fruit and vegetable supply chain and Europatat, the European Potato Trade Association.

Other calls by the European Commission opened at the same time include reducing food losses and waste in the agri-food chain, new and emerging risks to plant health and food system transformation.

EFSA investigating Listeria outbreak
A recent publication from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) looks at how research can stimulate innovation, how science can be communicated effectively to society and how to provide safe food for a growing population.

“Identifying food safety research priorities is something that is crucial for EFSA and we are committed to contributing actively. Our recent report on food safety regulatory research needs 2030, sets out research priorities over the next 10 years,” said Marta Hugas, EFSA chief scientist.

EFSA is also working with the ECDC on a rapid outbreak assessment of a multi-country outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections linked to meat products with a deadline at the end of November.

This appears to be part of a foodborne outbreak caused by Listeria in cold meat charcuterie, sliced and pre-packed from the Netherlands. Twenty Dutch patients were reported over two years with three associated deaths and one woman having a miscarriage.

RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) and NVWA (Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority) are investigating the outbreak linked to cold meat from a company called Offerman, a subsidiary of Ter Beke.

It is as yet unclear how many people and what countries are affected but a RASFF alert lists Aruba, Belgium, Curaçao, Germany, Luxembourg, Sint Maarten, Spain, Suriname and the United Kingdom as receiving potentially contaminated products.

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