It is acknowledged that historically anti-food fraud capability within Europe has not been consolidated and lacks the coordination and support structures available to those working in food safety. There are various initiatives underway to redress this balance e.g. DG Santé’s Food Fraud network, DG Research’s FoodIntegrity project, as well as numerous national programmes and industry initiatives. One pivotal area that still needs to be addressed is bringing together national research funding bodies to facilitate the development of transnational research programmes. AUTHENT-NET will address this need by mobilising and coordinating relevant research budget holders in order to facilitate the eventual development of a transnational European funding vehicle that will allow Members States (MS) to jointly fund anti-fraud research.
The objectives of the AUTHENT-NET project are:
1. Bring together relevant MS R&D budget holders to coordinate inter-disciplinary research effort and build a cohesive and sustainable network
2. Undertake stocktaking of existing national research and assess against the international landscape
3. Establish transnational mechanisms and instruments for collating and exchanging information on food authenticity research
4. Develop a high level research and innovation strategy for transnational research and a rationale for a potential ERANET on food authenticity
The AUTHENT-NET project will achieve these aims by providing the following results:
- build a network of Member State research funding bodies, to increase knowledge transfer and facilitate transnational co-operation;
- develop an openly available harmonised set of terms and definitions for use in the food authenticity area that will help transnational discussion and stocktaking;
- “map” out food authenticity in Europe and undertake stocktaking and analysis of existing data (e.g., national research projects, methods, commodities, databases, regulations, etc.) with a view of developing synergies and contacts amongst competent organisations;
- evaluate the gaps and complementarities in European funding of food authenticity R&D and assess them against the international landscape, in order to maximise synergies and impact and address where further research is needed;
- develop a rationale and a recommendation for a high level strategic research agenda for transnational research programmes in Europe, extensively based on key stakeholder input;
- establish a dynamic and sustainable European information platform, the Food Authenticity Research Network Hub (FARNH) for sharing and accessing information on food authenticity and related activities;
- draft a white paper identifying the rationale for an ERA-NET on food authenticity;
- actively disseminate the action aims and outcomes to other relevant research providers, and related stakeholders.
All these results can be found on the Authent-Net website (http://www.authent-net.eu ). In particular, regarding the CRA-W contribution, a Belgian national status report has been written, in collaboration with the various Belgian institutions, on ongoing initiatives and actions in Belgium in terms of product authentication (http://www.authent-net.eu/pdf/nsr-csr/nsr-belgium.pdf). A FARNHub web portal (http://farnhub.authent.cra.wallonie.be/ ) has been created and is freely available online. Users can get an overview of the resources currently available related to the authenticity of food (publications, projects, online databases, funding organizations with contact points, cases of fraud, regulation).
CRA-W lead the WP1 gathering 16 partners in charge to collect data (reports, projects, publications, directives, …) on the ongoing initiatives on authentication and food fraud fight at European, national and regional level. The expertise of CRA-W on analytical solutions development for quality control as well as for food authentication and traceability from fork to farm will be useful to inventory the initiatives on this domain in Belgium.
CRA-W is also involved in WP4 aiming to build a database, bringing together the data collected in WP1 and to manage a collaborative space to exchange information between the Member States (MS). This platform will deliver to the stakeholders to know for each country, the funding bodies, the current legislation, the ongoing projects and the priorities regarding authentication and food fraud detection. It will also give for each food sector, an overview of the initiatives, issues and needs in this domain in Europe.
The AUTHENT-NET project is coordinated by FERA (The Food Environment Research Agency) and comprises a core group of 19 participants from 10 Member States (MS), 1 Not Governmental Organisation (NGO) and the United States (US). They are either National research funding bodies, experts in food authenticity, and/or experts in transnational funding mechanisms.