The Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast will lead one of the world’s largest food safety projects across Europe and China. The European Horizon 2020 programme and Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) programme have awarded €10 million towards an EU-China partnership to improve food safety and tackle food fraud.University of Chemistry and Technology will take part in the project as a leader of some partial tasks.
The EU-China-Safe project will involve key players in the food industry, research organisations and Governments across two of the world’s largest trading areas.
Food fraud manifests itself in many ways, from horse meat labelled and sold as beef, as was the case in Europe in 2013, to illicit oil which saw slaughterhouse waste and sewage used in cooking oil, known as the 2014 ‘gutter oil’ scandal in China.
EU-China-Safe will reduce food fraud and improve food safety through focusing on improving food legislation, food inspection and increasing access to information across both continents. State-of–the-art technologies including a virtual laboratory will create a unique space to share and demonstrate best practice. The use of innovative technologies will result in improved detection of adulteration of food products as well as increased traceability and transparency of global supply chains.
Professor Elliott, Pro-Vice Chancellor at Queen’s and project co-ordinator, said: “We are delighted that The Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University will lead this important project, bringing together key stakeholders in the global food system across two of the world’s largest trading markets.”
Professor Yongning Wu, Chief Scientist from the China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment, co-ordinator of the Chinese efforts in the project, stated: “The EU-China Safe partnership between our two trading regions is of immense importance to help deliver safe and genuine food to all citizens.
“Working together across China and the EU will enable us to identify where food fraud is happening, address the root causes and thereby enable us to improve food safety standards for all our citizens.”
Reported instances of food fraud are on the increase and occur on a global scale, worth an estimated $52 billion globally each year. Food fraud is a global issue demanding a global response. The increasingly complex global food supply network increases the risks of serious food borne illness.
Professor Elliott added: “This project will tackle these highly connected issues in a way that will serve to better protect several billion people. There is a pressing need to act internationally in response to emerging threats to food safety and fraud. Working together as a coalition of 33 partners to share knowledge and maximise our technologies will empower the food industry to provide safer, authentic food and will boost consumers’ confidence and ultimately facilitate the expansion of EU-China trade.”