Project title: Processing for Food Safety – Forming the sound basis for the expansion of a Nordic Research Area Net to a European Research Area Net
Contract no.: 510175
Start date of contract: 2003-10-01
Project Duration (in months): 12
A Coordinated Action ERA-NET proposal “SAFEFOODERA” was submitted to the Commission in March 2004. The proposal obtained a high score, 27 of a maximum of 30 points, and was selected for contract negotiations. The SAFEFOODERA proposal was the final result of the specific support action project “PROFORSAFE”, Processing for Food Safety – Forming the sound basis for the expansion of a Nordic Research Area Net to a European Research Area Net. SAFEFOODERA became an active project coordinated by Nordic InnovationCentre (NICe) from August 1st 2004. In PROFORSAFE a European platform was established aiming to improve the protection of consumers against health risks from the consumption of food. The platform consists of 21 participants from 15 Member States, 3 Associated Countries and 3 regional organisations representing 450 million European citizens. From each organisation, one representative from a public body responsible for financing or managing research activities on food safety issues carried out at national or regional level has been selected to the steering committee.
The platform was established by sending an invitation to all the National Contact Points (NCP’s) for the thematic priority Food Quality and Safety in Member States, Candidate Countries and Associated Countries. The invitation resulted in an overwhelming response, and The Nordic Research Area Net was presented to interested parties between October 2003 and January 2004 through face-to-face meetings with programme managers and programme makers representing ministries or funding agencies which managed/planed public research programmes in the country in question. The face-to-face meetings turned out to be the key to create the required mutual understanding and trust in the forthcoming workshop.
The potential new partners were invited to a preparatory workshop in Copenhagen on January 29-30th 2004 to start the process of bringing national authorities closer together, and to build mutual understanding and trust by exchanging information on the national/regional research infrastructure on a common template, emphasising Food Safety. During the meeting the Nordic Ad hoc Group was enlarged to a European Ad hoc Group, and a methodology to be used to draft a Coordinated Action ERA-NET proposal was developed. The developed methodology was subsequently used to form one large European ERA-NET consortium in food safety by merging the SAFEFOODERA initiative with the specific support action ERA-NET “PERIAPT”. The merger resulted in the ”SAFEFOODERA“ proposal and the final European Consortium.
The merger with PERIAPT introduced Emerging risk - A potential food or feed borne or diet-related hazard that may become a risk for human health in the (near) future, as one of the strategic topics. However, the workshop in Copenhagen confirmed the importance of the Nordic strategic topics Risk analysis in food safety – Methodologies in protecting the consumers against health risks and misleading information, including crisis management, consumer perception and risk/benefit analysis, Process induced risk - Health risks from chemical pollution formed during processing of foods, Traceability - Documented and harmonised routines for recall of food products from the value chain - Development of reliable traceability methods and systems. It was further suggested that the Nordic strategic topic Campylobacter should be generalized to Pathogens - Pathogen free production systems - From reactive to preventive and predictive actions, and to introduce a new strategic topic Contaminants - Health risks from natural- and environmental contaminants in the food chain.
During the preparatory workshop in Copenhagen on January 29-30th 2004 the need for a European Expert group was questioned. The enlarged European Ad hoc Group suggested that the discussions about this activity should be postponed until the Coordination Action ERA-NET was established. The enlarged European Ad hoc Group also suggested that the questionnaires for the exchange of management programmes and evaluation practices should first be tested within the Nordic group. The experiences from the Nordic test could later be used to define the questionnaires to be used in the Coordination Action ERA-NET. To complete the 6 project objectives and 8 deliverables, the scientific and industrial challenges were discussed using a Nordic Expert Group and a questionnaire was developed and tested among the Nordic partners.
The questionnaire included 25 questions dealing with project applications and the decision making process. On many key topics there are rather similar systems in use in the Nordic Countries, however there are also differences among the partners. Before being used in the Coordination Action ERA-NET, the questionnaire must be further clarified to avoid misunderstanding and to enhance the preparation of future exchange of management programmes and evaluation practices on a European scale.