EU and China collaborate to combat food fraud

©iStock/AndreyPopov

More than 30 partners are part of a project to tackle food safety and authenticity across Europe and China.

The European Horizon 2020 programme and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) awarded €10m to ‘EU-China-Safe’.

Partners consist of 15 in the EU and 18 in China such as industry, research organisations and governments. Work starts from September and continues until August 2021.

Organisations include Fera Science, Nestec, Cranswick Country Foods, Danone Asia-Pacific Management Co, Nestle R&D China and Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co.

EU partners

Queen’s University Belfast, Ysoka Skola Chemicko-Cechnologicka V Praze, Bundesinstitut Fuer Risikobewertung, Agriculture And Food Development Authority, University College Dublin, Wageningen University, JRC – European Commission, Fundacion Azti - Azti Fundazioa, Nofima, Advanced Research Cryptography, Jochen Kleboth, Euroquality, Fera Science, Cranswick Country Foods, Nestec SA.

Expansion of trade

Professor Chris Elliott, pro-vice chancellor at Queen’s University Belfast and project co-ordinator, said it would bring together stakeholders across two of the world’s largest trading markets.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

EU-China-Safe will build core components for a joint EU-China food safety control system such as improving legislation, inspection and increasing access to information.

The project will focus on foods commonly linked to chemical and microbiological contamination and fraud (infant formula, processed meat, fruits, vegetables, wine, honey, spices).

It will analyse trade barriers caused by food safety and fraud issues and recommend how to predict and prevent future events.

Professor Yongning Wu, chief scientist from the China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment, said the partnership is of importance to help deliver safe and genuine food to 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,” added the co-ordinator of Chinese efforts in the project.

China partners

China National Center For Food Safety Risk Assessment, Chinese Academy Of Inspection & Quarantine, Beijing Center For Disease Prevention And Control, Iangsu Entry Exit Inspection And Quarantine Bureau, Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection Andquarantine Bureau Of The People Of Republica Of China Seal, China Meat Research Center, China National Research Institute Of Food And Fermentation Industries Soe, China Agricultural University, Tianjin University Of Science And Technology, Zhejiang Academy Of Agricultural Sciences, Yangtze Delta Region Institute Of Tsinghua University Zhejiang, Ningbo Academy Of Inspection And Quarantine Comprehensive Service Center For Technical Trade Measures, US Pharmacopeia Standard R&D And Technical Service (Shanghai) Co, Danone Asia-Pacific Management Co, Nestle R&D China, Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co., Jiangsu Yurun Meat Foods Co, Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Virtual lab and tech use

A virtual laboratory with interchangeable staff from two continents will create a space to share and demonstrate best practice and use of technology will improve detection of adulterated products as well as increased traceability and transparency of supply chains.

Arc-net will be a technology partner to the project with its Blockchain platform.

Kieran Kelly, CEO or arc-net, said: “Arc-net’s mission has always been to ensure the health of current and future generations by providing access to safe and authentic food and we see this project as a vital step in achieving this goal.

“The use of innovative technologies will result in the creation of fully transparent supply chain network which will become the foundation for a trusted digital community.”

Blockchain is a cryptographically sealed distributed database designed to maintain a growing list of records called blocks. Each block contains a timestamp and a secure link to the previous block, creating a ‘Chain-of-Custody’.

The arc-net Blockchain is managed by authorised community members adhering to a protocol for validation and authentication of products and services. 

Wageningen University & Research is leading the food authenticity sub-project.

It involves research into the causes of food fraud and the factors that play a role and developing new fraud detection methods and sharing them with organisations in the project.

“Through the use of modern technology, including a virtual laboratory, we can create a unique opportunity for demonstrating and sharing best practices,” said Professor Saskia Van Ruth of Wageningen University & Research and coordinator of the sub-project.

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