News from EU Research: SAFE FOODS : Promoting Food Safety through a New, Integrated Risk Analysis Approach for Foods

F. Cnudde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlePopular

5 Citations (Scopus)


The European food chain is generally considered as one of the safest in the world. Paradoxically, consumers in Europe have little confidence in the safety of their food supply and remain sceptical and distrustful of the institutions and the procedures currently in place. Consumer trust has declined as a result of a series of recent food safety incidents (e.g. BSE, dioxins) and the introduction of genetically modified foods in Europe. SAFE FOODS aims to restore consumer confidence in the food chain through the development of a new integrated risk analysis approach for foods. In this new framework, an efficient interaction between the risk analysis components and integration of societal values will play a central role (Fig. 1). SAFE FOODS is coordinated by Dr Harry Kuiper and Dr Hans Marvin of the RIKILT Institute of Food Safety in Wageningen, the Netherlands. It is in many ways the successor of ENTRANSFOOD, an EU project that focused on the safety assessment of genetically modified food crops. Dr Hans Marvin is also coordinating another EU FP6 project, SELAMAT (meaning safety in the Malay language). Being a sister project of SAFE FOODS, SELAMAT aims to create a network for sharing food safety expertise between Europe and Asia. The EU 6th Framework Integrated Project SAFE FOODS celebrated its first anniversary in April 2005 and its research activities are now on full speed. Lasting four years, SAFE FOODS seeks to refine risk analysis practice for food safety via an interdisciplinary approach. Combining the skills of natural and social scientists, 33 institutions from 17 countries are involved. The inclusion in the project of researchers from South Africa and China allows the risk analysis strategies developed to be tested on a global scale. SAFE FOODS aims to design new and effective procedures for analysing risks for foods produced by different production practices (high- or low-input systems) and with different breeding technologies (traditional, molecular and genetic modification). In the project, questions are addressed regarding (1) the applicability of new functional genomics profiling technologies for the identification of emerging risks in food production; (2) how information about risk assessment should be communicated to the public and how public concerns can be incorporated into this process; (3) how effective communication and inclusive public participation in risk management and science and technology policy can be developed; and (4) the role of institutions involved in risk assessment and management in the light of a broader risk analysis framework taking socio-economic, risk-benefit issues, consequences of introducing foods and new production methods into account. The main objectives of SAFE FOODS are as follows: ¿ to develop comparative safety assessment methods for foods produced by different breeding approaches and production practices; ¿ to design a working-procedure for early identification of emerging chemical or microbial risks in food production chains in an expanding European market; ¿ to investigate consumers confidence/preferences in risk analysis practices for foods including labelling and nutrition issues; ¿ to understand differences in food risk perceptions of consumers, experts, and decision makers, and to design informative risk communication strategies; ¿ to investigate the role of institutions across Europe involved in risk assessment and management given the greater interest of the consumer in taking a broader impact of food production on environment, animal welfare and sustainability; ¿ to design a new risk analysis approach for foods, integrating scientific principles, societal aspects and effective public participation. The major outcome of the project will be a new risk analysis approach for food safety management that integrates risk assessment of human health, consumer preferences and values, as well as impact analysis of socio-economical aspects. In the SAFE FOODS project, special attention is given to training activities and to dissemination of its research results. For more details, please visit our project website ( If you are interested to receive project updates, please email your full contact details to For more information on the other EU projects please visit: Figure 1 The SAFE FOODS risk analysis framework Figure 1 The SAFE FOODS risk analysis framework
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-195
JournalNutrition Bulletin
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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