Food Safety & Science

Food safety is the food and drink industry’s number one priority. FoodDrinkEurope and its members have extensive processes in place to ensure all products on the market meet the highest food safety standards, based on sound science. Science and science-based regulation also have an important role to play in helping the food industry meet the challenges it faces, namely, by developing new or improving existing products and technologies which bring benefits to the consumer and to society as a whole.

Guaranteeing food safety

Food safety is paramount to the industry. FoodDrinkEurope and its members have extensive procedures in place to ensure all products on the market meet the highest standards, most recent certification schemes and, above all, the latest legal requirements. This includes work on food ingredients (additives, enzymes, flavourings etc.), food contact materials, process contaminants (such as acrylamide) and allergens.

In February 2013, FoodDrinkEurope launched its Guidance on Food Allergen Management for Food Manufacturers. The first Guidance of its kind, sets out general principles to manage specific pre-prepacked foods causing allergy or certain intolerances and provides sound, evidence-based and consistent information on good practice in risk management of allergenic foods for producers. By harmonising and disseminating good practice, the FoodDrinkEurope Guidance ensures a consistent understanding of, and approach to, managing  allergens and certain food causing intolerances to a high standard throughout the European food industry. 

FoodDrinkEurope also runs its own incident management system to respond to emergencies. This includes monitoring the European Commission’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), a tool to exchange information about measures taken in response to serious risks detected in food or feed.

Investing in research

Research and development (R&D) has an important role to play in pushing the industry forward and helping manufacturers to remain competitive. To encourage research in the industry, FoodDrinkEurope continues to communicate its priorities for the Seventh Framework Programme (7FP). In particular, FoodDrinkEurope would like to see a mechanism with which to finance regional, national and European research infrastructure. Building on existing structures, this mechanism should aim to deliver a more business- and research-friendly framework for the industry.

Bringing new products to market

It is unrealistic, even unfeasible, to invest in R&D if a product or process does not reach the innovation stage and cannot be brought to market. Innovation is therefore central to facilitating market access for novel foods and engendering greater consumer choice. This said, new or improved products and processes should always be based on the best available science, regulatory compliance and consumer demand. In relation to this, FoodDrinkEurope calls on the European Commission to come forward with a revised Novel Foods Regulation as soon as possible as the current regulatory framework creates a bottleneck to innovation. It results in reduced investment in R&D and innovation due to unpredictable approval procedures and returns on investment. A new framework should also benefit manufacturers with limited research and innovation capacities, i.e. the 310,000 food and drink companies, 99.1% of which are SMEs.

Working in partnership

The European Technology Platform (ETP) Food for Life, under the auspices of FoodDrinkEurope, brings together stakeholders from across the food chain to promote research opportunities and improve knowledge transfer (particularly to SMEs) across Europe. FoodDrinkEurope also participates in several projects, for example the NU-AGE project for healthy ageing which aims to develop new strategies, for instance studying how diet can prevent cognitive functions from declining with age, in order to extend the average life span for Europe’s increasingly ageing population. It is also working on the Prometheus project, running from 2011 to 2014, which aims to reduce consumer exposure to food contaminants, formed during food processing, without impacting on the food's quality or reducing its microbiological safety. Several food processing technologies will be investigated and new analytical techniques developed. The project should help the industry to innovate by implementing new technologies.