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									                          MoniQA NoE
                                 -
 Towards harmonisation of analytical methods for monitoring food
           quality and safety in the food supply chain

                                      ROLAND E POMS
     ICC, International Association for Cereal Science and Technology, Marxergasse 2,
                                   A-1030 Vienna, Austria
                                   roland.poms@icc.or.at




MoniQA NoE
MoniQA (Monitoring and Quality Assurance in the food supply chain) is an EU funded
project coordinated by ICC. MoniQA is a Network of Excellence in the thematic area of
quality and safety control strategies for food and will aim at the harmonisation of analytical
methods for monitoring food quality and safety in the food supply chain.


1. Project summary
The MONIQA (“Towards harmonisation of analytical methods for monitoring food quality and
safety in the food supply chain”) NoE seeks to establish durable integration of leading
research institutions, industrial partners and SMEs working in complementary fields of
analytical methods for food quality and safety. MONIQA aims at overcoming European and
worldwide fragmentation in food quality and safety (Q&S) research by integrating key
organisations in a core consortium. Benefits through dissemination and joint research will
also be available to associated partners (=associates). The core consortium (=partners /
members) seek to establish mechanisms for coordinating and finally merging research
activities, personnel and infrastructure. The industry and SME sector will benefit through
application of the harmonised detection method and technologies, as will the consumers of
high quality and safe food.

The core consortium comprises a network of 34 members. The geographic diversity covers
11 EU member states (21 partners), 2 Associated Candidate Countries (3 partners), 2
Associated countries (2 partners), 1 MPC country (1 partner) and 4 Asian/Oceanic countries
(5 partners). From the 34 members, 14 are research institutions (RES), 13 are centres of
higher education (HE), 2 are industry partners and 5 are other organisations (NGO, small
companies). Seven SMES are full partners in the consortium. Ten of the partners have a
female leader (about 30%). A total of 155 researchers and doctoral students are planned for
integration into the network with more than 40% of female researchers and more than 55% of
female PhD students. Using the calculation provided in the Guideline, this results in a
calculated Grant for Integration of €12,300,000 for a duration of 5 years.




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2. Project objectives
The MONIQA NoE seeks to establish durable integration of leading research institutions,
industrial partners and SMES working in complementary fields of detections and methods for
food quality and safety. MONIQA aims at overcoming European and worldwide
fragmentation in food quality and safety (Q&S) research by integrating key organisations in a
core consortium. Benefits through dissemination and joint research will also be available to
associated partners (=associates). The core consortium (=partners / members) seek to
establish mechanisms for coordinating and finally merging research activities,
personnel and infrastructure. The industry and SME sector will benefit through
application of the harmonised detection method and technologies, as will the consumers of
high quality and safe food.
MONIQA will play an important role in integrating European and worldwide food quality and
safety research by creating a virtual laboratory for joint research, training, dissemination and
mobility programmes. It will allow and actively promote sharing of data and knowledge, as
well as of equipment, materials and personnel through creation of a global platform for food
Q&S researchers. Integrating activities will enable shared access to world’s best research
facilities, technological platforms, software, analytical tools and knowledge. The joint
research programme will allow high quality research directed towards the most pressing
issues fulfilling both food quality and safety policies, as well as citizens’ concerns. The
network will establish a virtual laboratory to develop common strategies for harmonising and
validating detection methods and technologies strategies to set new standards in food quality
and safety initially within the production and extending to the whole food supply chain.

3. The ten-point programme of specific objectives for the full duration of the MONIQA
NoE

For Durable Integration
   1. Merge partner strengths into a portfolio of synergetic research to meet emerging food
       quality and safety challenges on global scale.
   2. Establish a mobility programme to promote the exchange of personnel for both short
       term secondments and full relocation within the network of participant institutions.
   3. Achieve a sustainable network to ensure durable integration of international research
       institutions through development of joint economic models, research programmes
       and intellectual property.
For Joint Research
   4. Develop harmonisation strategies (guidelines) for risk assessment and
       standardisation of detection methods and technologies in food safety and quality.
   5. Assess implications of advanced processing and monitoring technologies
       implemented in modern HACCP systems. Identify and prioritise gaps and needs for
       future food quality and safety research.
   6. Design and generate a user-friendly database of food quality and safety issues and
       corresponding analytical tools for food production and supply chain.
   7. Perform socio-economic analyses on the impact of new regulations and on the
       implementation of harmonised methods and technologies within new HACCP
       systems.
For Spreading of Excellence
   8. Facilitate knowledge sharing within the network and dissemination to food production
       and supply chain and other relevant stakeholder groups for harmonisation of, and
       compliance with food quality and safety standards.
   9. Define requirements for, and set up training programmes to achieve harmonised
       levels of know-how and skills, along with mutual recognition of qualifications for
       academics and industry.
For Consortium Management
   10. Establish an efficient management structure with quality assurance to that can be
       sustained beyond the EC funding.

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4. Key deliverables (resulting from the ten-point programme)
    1 The MONIQA network has an operational system to facilitate sharing of research
       infrastructure, equipment and databases.
    2 A fully functional mobility programme allowing easy and regular exchange of
       personnel between network member organisations.
    3 A sustainability programme to ensure economic durability and long term co-operation
       of the network and the network management.
    4 Harmonisation guidelines for risk assessment and standardisation of detection
       methods and emerging technologies.
    5 Report of modernisation potential in monitoring and quality assurance in the food
       supply chain employing advanced on-line technology including a research agenda
       (2010 – 2020).
    6 Database of food quality and safety issues and corresponding analytical tools for food
       production and supply chain available to network members and associates.
    7 Economic analysis reports of the impact of new regulations and the implementation of
       harmonised detection methods and technologies applied within new HACCP
       systems.
    8 Knowledge management platform and culture; dissemination activities; web site and
       dissemination material, annual network meetings including associates and bi-annual
       conference for taking place in various countries.
    9 International curricula of mutually recognised training courses (including e-learning)
       and qualifications for both university and industry.
    10 An efficient and quality assured network management scheme that can be sustained
       beyond the EC funding.




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5. Participant List



ID Country     Organisation                                         Short
               Full Legal Name                                      name
             International Association for Cereal Science and
1   AT                                                              ICC
             Technology
2 AT         Universität für Bodenkultur Wien,                      BOKU
3 Egypt      Ain Shams University                                   ASU
             Campden and Chorleywood Food Research
4 UK                                                                CCFRA
             Association
5 BE         Centre d´Economie Rurale (CER Groupe)                  CER
6 DE         Eurofins Analytik GmbH                                 Eurofins
7 ES         Centro Tecnologico Gaiker                              Gaiker
8 UK         Central Science Laboratory                             CSL
9 GR         International Quality and Environment Services S.A.    Q-Plan
10 TR        Tübitak Marmara Research Center                        TUBITAK
11 BG        University of Food Technologies                        UFT
12 IL        VocalTag Ltd.                                          VTAG
13 FI        VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland               VTT
14 IT        University of Naples Federico II                       DSA
15 NO        Norwegian Food Research Institute                      Matforsk
16 GR        National Technical University of Athens                NTUA
             National Institute for Public Health and the
17 NL                                                               RIVM
             Environment
18 CN        Sichuan University                                     SCU
             Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca per gli Alimenti e la
19 IT                                                               INRAN
             Nutrizione
20 HU        Budapest University of Technology and Economics        BUTE
21 NZ        Institute of Environmental Science and Research        ESR
22 DE        Freie Universität Berlin                               FUB
23 PL        National Food and Nutrition Institute                  NFNI
24 TR        Hacettepe University                                   HCTU
25 CN        Chinese Cereals and oils association                   CCOA
26 Indonesia Bogor Agricultural University                          IPB
27 VN        Hanoi University of Technology                         HUT
28 UK        Institute of Food Research                             IFR
29 IT        National Research Council                              CNR
30 AT        RTD Services                                           RTDS
31 BE        IRMM- Joint Research Centre                            IRMM
32 DE        Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms Universität Bonn         Uni-Bonn
             Interdisciplinary Centre for Comparative Research in
33 AT                                                               ICCR
             the Social Sciences
34 IT        University of Bologna                                  UNIBO




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6. Relevance to the objectives of the Food Quality and Safety Priority

6.1 Policy and Legislative Background

Although the Common Agricultural Policy implemented by the European Commission met the
Treaty’s objective to provide the EU population with sufficient food supply, citizens
increasingly now question both quality and safety of food. A number of recent crises related
such as BSE in various Member States, the dioxin crisis in Belgium and the GMO issue have
fuelled the discussion. In addition, the trade conflict between the EU and the US on the
import of beef produced with hormones and the increasing role of gene technology in food
production have as a consequence that safety concerns are more and more prominent on
the political agenda. Citizens are concerned not only at the safety of EU-produced food but
also at the consequences of the increasing trade liberalisation on the imports of food
products from non-EU countries. At the other end the increasing threats through bioterrorism
both microbiological and chemical have a major impact on security and analytical measures
to be taken in quick response to occurrence.

With the publication on 12 January 2000 of the Commission’s White Paper on Food Safety,
the issue of food safety has had a major influence on the agri-food industry stating that “the
European Union needs to re-establish public confidence in its food supply, its food science,
its food law and its food control”. The White Paper action plan for food safety stipulated that
HACCP was to be adopted within proposals for Regulations on feed and hygiene by the
Commission in June 2000 and adopted by the Council / Parliament by June 2002. As a result
the legislative basis for achieving hygiene throughout the food chain comprises Reg.
EC 178/2002, Dir. 93/43/EEC, Reg. E.C. 852/2004 which are mandatory to all food
establishments (food industry, food service).

Articles 17 (Responsibilities) and 18 (Traceability) from EC 178/2002 are of particular
relevance:

Article 17 (1) imposes on food business operators an obligation according to which they must
actively participate in implementing food law requirements by verifying that such
requirements are met. This general requirement is closely linked to other mandatory
requirements laid down by specific legislation (i.e. HACCP implementation in the field of
food hygiene).

….. each link in the food chain should take the measures necessary to ensure compliance
with food law requirements within the context of its own specific activities, applying HACCP-
type principles and other similar instruments.

Article 18: Experience has shown that the functioning of the internal market in food or feed
can be jeopardised where it is impossible to trace food and feed. It is therefore necessary to
establish a comprehensive system of traceability within food and feed businesses so
that targeted and accurate withdrawals can be undertaken or information given to consumers
or control officials, thereby avoiding the potential for unnecessary wider disruption in the
event of food safety problems.

Recent food scares (BSE and dioxin crisis) have demonstrated that the identification of the
origin of feed and food is of prime importance for the protection of consumers. In
particular, traceability helps facilitate the withdrawal of food and enables consumers to be
provided with targeted and accurate information concerning implicated products. Traceability
does not itself make food safe. It is a risk management tool to be used in order to assist in
containing a food safety problem.



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The MONIQA network will focus on Area 5.4.5 Methods of analysis, detection and control
and in particular Topic 5.4.5.1 Quality and safety control strategies for food.

Without sufficient detection methods and technologies, the traceability and responsibilities
cited in the above articles will not be able carried out across the food chain as needed. The
Joint Research Programme will concentrate on developing common strategies for
harmonising and validating detection methods and technologies for application into new
HACCP systems at critical stages of the food production and supply chains. Not only
legislation, but also implementation procedures are necessary to gain commitment from
manufacturers and retailers to explain the origin of a product and to ensure quality and
safety; not only with standard systems for all member states, but also for the food products of
non-EU origin. These challenges require new research activities to find the short- and
medium-term solutions concerning quality control systems, with the aim of harmonising
quality and safety control procedures and systems that ensure widespread the
implementation and application through a wide range of food producers, processors and
distributors i.e. the full supply chain.


6.2 Food quality and safety issues in the future

The MONIQA NoE will initially be a virtual melting pot of key players, which will lead to
durable integration of a diverse set of food quality and safety research institutions.
Being led by two international organisations (ICC in Europe and CCOA in China) as well as
involving industry, SMEs and standardisation bodies, new harmonised food quality and
safety strategies will be established encompassing policies and legislation, technologies
(detection sensors, automation systems and the advances in software development and
remote control) and methods such as processes enabling the performance monitoring of
automated and intelligent HACCP systems tailored each and every food production and
transformation process. The global approach of the MONIQA NoE is essential to deal with
food quality and safety issues in the future, such as new pathogens that may arise as a
consequence of factors outside of the food producers are of influence – see the section
“Food supply network” in B4. The food chain has become the complex network of interacting
chains which can cross several international borders before the final product actually reaches
the table. This leads to the issue of world trade - especially with suppliers from developing
countries.


6.3 Europe’s responsibility towards the developing world – responding to global
challenges

Domestic European policies with regard to life sciences and biotechnology are bound to have
major impacts on developing countries. Whilst not compromising EU food safety
requirements or consumer information policies, the EU are committed to provide
technical assistance and capacity building ensuring that EU domestic policies do not hinder
economic development in third countries. This refers specifically to regulatory requirements
that may be manageable only in the industrial world but are unachievable by developing
countries, thereby either upsetting existing trade or effectively blocking developing countries
from developing life sciences and biotechnology.

The European agenda for international collaboration has defined the so-called Action 24
for implementation from 2002 onwards:

“The Commission should continue to play a leading role in developing international
guidelines, standards and recommendations in relevant sectors, based on international
scientific consensus and, in particular, push for the development of a consistent, science-


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based, focused, transparent, inclusive and integrated international system dealing
with food safety issues.”
             Life sciences and biotechnology – A Strategy for Europe – EC
             Communication 2002

The MONIQA NoE has integrated research institutes from important INCO and Third
countries such as China, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Israel, Egypt, New Zealand and
South Africa. Non-EU partners make up nearly 50% of the core consortium plus numerous
more as associates. The global aspects of MONIQA are well covered.


7. Potential impact

7.1 Contributions to standards

The food and drink industry is the largest manufacturing sector in Europe with a turnover of
810 billion Euro in 2004 with an export potential valued at around 50 billion Euro. The sector
is an important pillar of the economy in many EU Member States, employing over 4 million
people, the majority (60%) within the SMEs sector, supporting some 280,000 companies
(99% are SMEs) and generates a positive trade balance with the rest of the world. The
European food and drink industry covers a market of 450 million consumers in the EU and
transforms more than 70% of the EU’s agricultural raw materials into added value products.
Moreover, it imports many raw materials from around the world and re-exports them after
processing. This ability to add value provides the European agro-food industry with a
competitive advantage, but even large companies involved in food manufacture are unable to
incorporate all of the current advances in food research.

R&D fragmentation of detection methods and technologies for food quality and safety
The detection and quantification of biological and chemical contaminants – preferably as
rapidly and reliably as possible – is extremely important in managing the safety of food and
feed. Implementation of consumer protection regulations and developments in analytical
techniques has led to the emergence of a wide range of rapid and novel methods and high
throughput methods to complement the traditional methods. The R&D of rapid methods and
technologies is fragmented due to small company/unit sizes and a relatively short life span of
such methods. Rapid methods, in particular in the format of test kits and/or fast and easy
protocols, play an ever increasing role in the assurance of food safety requirements in
industry and regulatory institutions. For best practice in QM (quality management) rapid
methods may be employed to measure effectiveness of food safety measures (e.g. in
HACCP, hazard analysis of critical control points) and to promote a pro-active food safety
approach within the factory environment (from raw material, over the finished product, to
consumer). For public health institutions and enforcement authorities, rapid methods offer the
possibility for just-in-time intervention to prevent or minimise outbreaks. Achieving
harmonisation of detection methods and technologies for assuring the quality and safety of
food through application into new HACCP systems will open completely new markets for
third countries. This has obvious benefits for developing economies, which currently can not
all supply the world markets because they do not have access to cost efficient tools to assure
food quality and safety. Likewise, the industrialised nations could benefit more from these
food sources if they are confident in the quality and safety of these suppliers.


7.2 Contributions to policy developments

Contribution to the European Research Area
The proposed network is intended to address the fragmentation in analytical tools and
evaluation criteria for food quality and safety research undertaken within Europe and
worldwide. The MONIQA NoE will establish formal links between a complementary set of

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institutions active within this area and to enable research collaboration in both physical and
virtual working environments. Traditionally, innovations have been bound to a country or
even an institution or individuals. The intention with the network is to encourage sharing of
knowledge about food quality and safety technologies and methods to define harmonised
approaches that will benefit all stakeholders in the food chain, which covers the entire society
– right down to the consumer.


The potential impact of the Food Supply “Network”

In the light of recently documented crises and outbreaks emerging along the food chain and
observed all over the world, food safety has become an issue of major importance for the
European Community. Due to this development and the fact that food safety is of paramount
importance for public health, there is an urgent need for considering and monitoring all
aspects of food safety on an international basis. Furthermore, the European food industry
has shown pronounced interest in the topic of food quality and food safety management,
since ensuring high food quality and safety have to be primary aims for producers and
distributors.

Researchers and industry alike are challenged with meeting both increasingly stringent
regulations and higher expectations of consumers concerning food quality and safety. This
was the premise which formed the basic priorities for conception of the joint programme of
activities. Problems faced in meeting new expectations in food quality and safety are no
longer bound by national boundaries or even within a continent. Globalisation of the world
economy has led to extremely complex food supply chains, which now call for new
harmonised standards in detection and methods and technologies, which can ensure quality
and safety every step of the food production and supply network. As shown in Fig. 1 – it can
no longer be simply termed a “chain”.




            Fig. 1: The food supply “network” (Source: European Technology Platform on Food
for Life)

Even though formats and methods for the detection of various food hazards/contaminants
are based on similar principles, each kind of food (animal-based, plant-based, sea-food-
based or drinking water) poses specific challenges in hazard management and analysis.
Standardisation and harmonisation of methods and protocols are necessary to reach a
common level of food security and safety, which will have a great impact on the local


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markets, but also on import and export of foods as well as on surveillance programmes of
global dimension.

The minimum requirements of novel methods and technologies are largely dependent on the
degree of safety required, the availability of sensitive (traditional?) methods, and the
legal/regulatory requirements of national and international authorities, such as limit of
detection, LOD, limit of quantitation, LOQ, repeatability and reproducibility, RSD, recovery,
precision, and specificity/selectivity, and all within the limits of measurement uncertainties.
Additionally, matrix effects and processing effects must be taken into account when
evaluating the performance of methods and the reliability and relevance of generated results.
However, validation and standardization of such methods by employing (certified) reference
materials and reference methods is a pre-requisite for global application and reliability of
rapid methods. Currently guidelines for validation criteria for rapid methods are under
preparation by various national (e.g. DIN, AFNOR, etc.) and international organisations, such
as CEN and ISO

Harmonisation of validation and standardization protocols is necessary for mutual recognition
(between countries and organisations) of international standards. For best efficacy and cost
efficiency it is extremely important to establish co-ordinated efforts for method
standardization – currently there is a lack of information and communication between
validation organisations, which has led to numerous independent/parallel studies dealing with
the same issues and performed by various (national or international organisations) without
mutual recognition of the results.

Overcoming fragmentation in food quality and safety in research and industry

At present there is fragmentation and under-utilised synergies between leading research
institutions, industrial partners and SMEs on detection methods for food (and feed) quality
and safety (Q&S) in Europe and worldwide. There is a lack of harmonisation strategies and
tools (e.g. guidelines and standards) for risk assessment and standardisation of detection
methods and technologies on food (and feed) as well as for Q&S and traceability
management of food sub-sectors (e.g. dairy, meat, fish, vegetables, etc.).

There is a need to improve the ability of SMEs, in particular, and Industry in general, to
exploit knowledge and innovation across the food chain (network) taking into account that
many SMEs in this sector are technologically unsophisticated. A main challenge would be to
achieve a high level of transparency between individual production stages and to share risks
and benefits along the value chain (network) under the aim of harmonisation and
standardisation of methodological strategies that would be valid for all food industries and for
worldwide application.

Many times the industry and SMEs are very sceptical in adoption of analytical tools for food
production and food supply chain (network), concerning corresponding food safety hazards.
This scepticism is increased by the differentiations of the legislation of developed and
developing countries. The development of a HACCP System in a food sector is based on
Codex Alimentarius and the recent ISO 22000 standard (or other country standards based
on Codex). Specialists may face problems in developing a HACCP System, because there is
variety of hazards related both to the food sector itself and to the former and the previous
sectors in the food supply network. In addition legislation differs from country to country for
the various food safety issues (especially for the hot topics), or new hazards may emerge
(taking also into consideration bioterrorism).




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8. Conclusions

The main objectives of this Network of Excellence (NoE) in the thematic area of “Quality and
safety control strategies for food” is overcoming research fragmentation in the EU and
worldwide through durable integration of complimentary food safety research institutions with
the aim of developing common strategies for harmonising and standardising analytical
methods and technologies to assure food safety, improve food quality, and increase
consumer confidence. Within the project common strategies for harmonising and validating
detection methods and technologies while providing an economic analysis of their application
into tailor-made HACCP systems at critical stages of the food production and supply chains
will be developed. These strategies should also provide the operational designs of user-
friendly databases for various hazards in food based on standardised data. Novel operational
approaches for the production of ready-to-use guidelines on risk assessment and tools for
stimulating e-learning and dissemination of the results via workshops should also be
conceived. The core consortium of MoniQA comprises a network of 34 member institutions
from 20 countries. A total of 155 researchers, including 41 doctoral students are planned for
integration into the network.




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