EU funding available for new research on food fraud

Painting a tomatoUp to €3m in EU funding is being made available for innovative research projects to help fight food fraud.

The grants are being provided via the EU Food Integrity project, co-ordinated by Fera Science Ltd - and are available to consortia with R&D ideas in four key areas:

- the standardisation and harmonisation of untargeted food integrity methods;
- innovative approaches to assure the integrity of complex foods;
- a feasibility study of how information can be shared along the supply chain to identify risks to the integrity of food; and
- rapid, on-site, cost-effective methods for feed and food fraud detection.

Paul Brereton, co-ordinator of the Food Integrity project and head of agri-food research at Fera, said: "As ‘horsegate’ and similar scandals underlined, providing assurance to consumers and other stakeholders about the safety, authenticity and quality of food is of vital importance to the UK and wider European agri-food economy."

"We know that food fraud is still happening on a massive scale. In the last six months alone data collected and analysed by Fera has found more than 200 incidents of reported food fraud, from the 'wine' that contained no grapes, to 'finest' honey that was clearly old and poor quality.

Other examples include undeclared soya and wheat in almonds, faked famous brand beers, sugar added to 'no added sugar' drinks and mislabelling for a range of produce, including hazelnut oil and pork, he said.

"Fera is developing cutting edge technologies to assure food provenance as well as verify labelling claims for a wide range of products from wine, oils and fats to Manuka honey. It is also leading ground breaking research into developing systems that will anticipate food fraud, for example what will the impact of failed harvests in one part of the world on the risk of food fraud in another."

“We now want innovative research proposals from the international research community, to work with us in developing methods and systems to assure the supply chain and protect consumers against food fraud," said Brereton.

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