Last summer the SAFE Consortium, which is a cooperation between European laboratories in the field of food security, published a strategic report on research priorities and the importance of food safety. The report was delivered to the European Commission, which reiterates the importance of food security is placed in the foreground of all foodstuffs.
Matís has been a valuable participant in the SAFE cooperation in recent years, not least because Oddur Mar Gunnarsson, Head of Business Development at Matís, has had a key role in the operation of SAFE Consortium. He was chairman of the organization from 2010 to 2012, and has in recent years been the general secretary. Parallel to Mr. Gunnarsson’s roles, Matís has taken over the operations of the SAFE office and both Mr. Gunnarsson and Matís play a part in the restructuring of the organization’s activities.
Food safety is the base for food production
Mr. Gunnarsson informs the origin of the SAFE report is that recent times have been good in terms of food safety and few problems have risen. This had led to a decrease in allocation of resources in this area. In the framework of the European Union’s food safety become intertwined with other factors such as food security, sustainability and such. But safe food and food security has to be the foundation upon which the food industry builds. All innovation in the food industry needs to have a strong link to food safety and it needs to be mentioned specifically as the basis for all food industry. “There is little purpose to have plenty of food if he’s not safe – food safety is a key component.”
Mr. Gunnarsson participated in marking a new strategy for SAFE, a strategy based on moving the organization from its almost exclusively educational to a strategic leader for others in the area. He said the organization had to find ways to streamline operations while at the same time maintaining effective work. The review is part of this and Mr. Gunnarsson thinks that SAFE has established a new position with the publication of the report. “Perhaps SAFE needed a bit of overhauling, as it is always needed to update your knowledge, your vision, to make what you are doing more effective.
He said the report has been well received by the Commission in Brussels, where it is custom to draw attention to the dangers that are on the horizon and how to build on the existing experience to ensure consumer safety. “Generally speaking, the Commission agreed on the specifics of the report and it was my impression the content was getting through. I hope this will be reflected in the EU’s future research focus.”
Long-term studies provide an overview
Mr. Gunnarsson says that Matís’ research is extremely important for SAFE as Matís has a great reputation within the European scientific community. “Receiving reports and results from scientific studies from all corners of Europe is important for the broad scientific view. This allows us to look for common experiences and it helps the organization identify present risks. Little is still known about the various aspects of the food, such as combined chemical pollution from different sources and the role in increased allergies.”
Mr. Gunnarsson says that cooperation with SAFE is a good foundation and secures Matís’ good relationships within Europe. “Within the organization there are 13 institutions and as a large group of scientist we have a strong voice. Participation in the SAFE Consortium gives us a voice within the EU and thus we can influence what research will be put to the forefront in the coming years.”
For additional information please visit SAFE Consortium’s web site.