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Introduction to Q-SAFE

The food chain comprises agricultural production, manufacturing, distribution, retail and consumption. The agro-food sector is not only one of the largest manufacturing sectors in Europe with a turnover of €913 billion (2007 value), but also has a direct impact on human and (environmental) health and vitality of the human population. The latter has become increasingly important in a time when food related diseases have reached epidemic levels. Additionally, food consumption is fundamental to the health and vitality of the citizens of Europe and food production is vital to the competiveness of the European food industry - the sector providing the highest level of employment in Europe (4.3 million people in 2007). 

On the one hand awareness of consumer and product safety has probably never been so high. Significant food crises in Europe during the past five years have given rise to concerns about food products put on the market. Food safety and quality worldwide faces increased pressures and challenges arising from the globalisation of food trade, intensive production systems and changing consumer preferences. Predictive modelling and quantitative (microbial, chemical) risk assessment plays a crucial part in food quality and safety around the globe, providing predictive tools which are used by the food industry, policy makers and managers to formulate and implement risk management policies and controls with the view to protecting human health. 

On the other hand it is estimated that the food chain is responsible for 195 MtCO2e emissions and for 15 Mt of food waste, causing significant environmental impacts. Most of this can be avoided, and the vast majority of the remainder used as a resource into the food chain. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and related tools (such as carbon or water footprints) have proved to be an essential element on the evaluation of the environmental performance of food value chains.

Europe has long been associated with the production of high quality foods, safety and control of environmental standards. In order to maintain this status it is important that we are proactive in our approaches for quality surveillance in foods while making improvements to the food chain. Food safety and energy sustainability has become a priority research area worldwide as the global food supply evolves. For example food safety is amongst the top eleven organisational priorities identified by the World Health Organisation. Recent health scares, including the outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O104:H4, BSE crisis, growth hormones in meat, dioxin, sudan red and avian flue scares, have made consumers more wary about the origin, traceability and safety of the food they eat. At the same time, making improvements to the food chain to reduce energy consumption and to `prolong shelf life is essential for food security and sustainability but represents a significant challenge for the industry. 

 What are the aims of this Strategic Partnership? 

 The overall aim of this strategic partnership is to:

  • train early stage researchers in the area of predictive modelling, risk assessment and LCA through a multilateral trans-European cooperation
  • foster both institutional collaboration and innovative problem based learning initiatives.
Why are Simulation tools important?

Simulation tools have a myriad of applications in food and bio-industries: food technologies, food sciences, food management (traceability, food safety). Food can be formulated optimally, but food substrates (both fluid and solid) are subject to important biochemical/functional/organoleptic issues during processing. The dependence of these issues upon operations is strategically important for food safety and quality; and the holistic evaluation that only LCA can provide is required in order to guarantee that environmental impact is also taken into account and that burdens are not transferred among to different stages of the value chain.

 What are the objectives of this partnership in Q-SAFE?

  • To bring together teaching and industrial staff who are currently working on different aspects of modelling for simulation and optimisation of the quality, safety of food products and energy usage.
  • Achieve a more rounded student experience with an impact in employability of youths. 
  • Address student needs by covering topics regarding Predictive Modelling, Quantitative Risk Assessment LCA. 
  • To help young scientists to build scientific networks and collaborations, and stimulate advanced research and new directions in European academia and industry. 

 It is envisaged that at the end of this strategic partnership participants will have a clearer understanding of the quantitative tools to assess product quality, safety, resources intensity and environmental impacts in the food industry. This will enable research activities on more efficient and effective monitoring techniques and promote the employabiity of researchers with high competencies.  

Courses to be Offered as from October 2018

A list of courses to be offered by the Faculty as from October 2018, together with details on the application process and all the relevant information is available via the prospective students page.

The page is constantly being updated. Applicants are advised to check the page regularly for further information.

Last Updated: 11 March 2015

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