Food Production Chains in Europe

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					Food Production Chains in Europe:
      trends and concerns

                    Harris N. Lazarides

  Professor and Head, Department of Food Science and Technology
 Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Hellas (
               Scope of presentation
Sustainability and Food: Aspects – dimensions
FOOD Production
 Globalization driven food production practices
 Non-sustainable production practices and Food Safety threats
 Sustainability and GMO Food
 Sustainable food production schemes
FOOD Processing
 Creating food from raw materials –Adding value
 Sustainable food processing & packaging techniques
FOOD distribution
 Food labeling and consumer choice
 Emerging tools for Sustainable distribution
 Globalization and food market control
Scope of presentation (continued)
  FOOD Handling
   Mishandling of food by consumers and food safety
   Consumer responsibility and the need for training

  FOOD consumption
   Questionable consumption ethics & unsustainable use of
    food - The obesity and hunger epidemics
   Food/nutrition education - Preventive medical care –
    Corporate (food industry) responsibility
FOUNDER of the
principles of
Aριστοτέλης, Aristotélēs
ARISTOTLE 384 - 322 BC
Born in Stageira
A Greek philosopher;
student of Plato; teacher of
Alexander the Great

1.   To keep in existence; keep up; maintain or prolong
2.   To provide for the support of; specif., to provide
     sustenance or nourishment for
3.   To support from or as from below; carry the weight
     or burden of
4.   To strengthen the spirits, courage, etc. of; comfort;
     buoy up; encourage
5.   To bear up against; endure; withstand
6.   To undergo or suffer (an injury, loss, etc)
7.   To uphold the validity or justice of
8.   To confirm; corroborate
                     Source: Webster’s Dictionary of the American Language
  Sustainable agriculture…

is the practice of farming using principles of ecology;
    that is the relationships between organisms and their
It integrates three main goals:
 environmental stewardship,
 farm profitability
 prosperous farming communities.
Sustainable agriculture
It has been defined as "an integrated system of plant and
animal production practices having a site-specific
application that will last over the long term to:

 Satisfy human needs for food and fiber

 Make the most efficient use of non-renewable and on-farm
resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological
cycles and controls
 Sustain the economic viability of farm operations
 Enhance quality of life for farmers & society as a whole.”

 Respect to Nature – cooperation with her understanding that man and
nature are bound and interrelated
 Respect to man and human values (democracy, equality, justice, fraternity,
 Recognition of the special role of plants as the only creatures that bind
(“create”) energy, entropy and pollutants (CO2) to create order (chemical
compounds). All other creatures consume energy, produce entropy and
pollutants to create disorder
 Use of regenerated resources (i.e. regenerative agriculture)
 Respect to our roots (heredity), tradition and culture (civilization)
 Social control of production, distribution and resource management

• Food sovereignty

• Local food movement

• Slow food movement

• Holistic management
Food Sovereignty
the "right of people to define their own food and
  agriculture," in contrast to having food largely
  subject to international market forces.
Local food
(also regional food or food patriotism)
a principle of sustainability relying on
  consumption of food products that are
  locally grown
Local food movement
a "collaborative effort to build more locally based,
   self-reliant food economies - one in which
   sustainable food production, processing,
   distribution, and consumption is integrated to
   enhance the economic, environmental and social
   health (prosperity) of a particular place»
It is considered as part of the broader sustainability
                             Slow food
International movement founded by Carlo Petrini (1986)
Promoted as an alternative to fast food, it strives to
preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages
farming of plants, seeds and livestock characteristic of the
local ecosystem.
Its goals of sustainable foods and promotion of local
small businesses are paralleled by a political agenda
directed against globalization of agricultural products.
Slow food unites the pleasure of food with
responsibilty, sustainability and harmony with nature
(Carlo Pertini, Slow Food Founder)
Holistic Management
  A systems thinking approach to managing land
  resources that
 builds biodiversity,
 improves production,
 generates financial strength and
 improves the quality of life
for those who use it.
Food issues in European countries
  FOOD Production
   Globalization induced food production practices
   Non sustainable production practices and Food
    Safety threats
   Sustainability and GMO Food
   Sustainable food production schemes
Globalization leads to:
Increasingly intensified competition & need for
  introduction of new, non-sustainable production
  “tools” (techniques)
New safety threats of different type and scale compared
  to known ones – Limited capacity to handle them
  (food crises)

Lack of Social Control on food production
Intensification and food safety
  threats in animal products:

 Antibiotics – used as anabolics (growth
 Toxins – dioxins, mycotoxins, …
 New pathogens – BSE (“crazy cow” disease)
Antibiotics used as growth promoters

Negative effects:
  Resistant microorganisms
  “Loss” of curing power of human antibiotics
  Difficulty or inability to face common diseases –
  loss of human lives
  Major problems with children and elderly

Need for animal feed control - first legislative action
  by Sweeden
          Food Toxins – Dioxins
Belgian chicken 1999
  Contaminated meat-based feeds
  Difficulties to trace back the origin (small % of raw
  material used by many feed producers)
  Preventive damage of huge product quantities, without
  prevention of health damages
  Negative impact on food industry reliability
  Consumer scare

Ethical issue:
The problem was hidden by the Belgian authorities
Food toxins - Mycotoxins
Present in:
 Nuts, dry fruits
 Animal feed

 Strong carcinogens
 Additive (cummulative action)
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
(BSE-crazy cow disease)

 Meat-based animal feeds from sick animals
 (carcasses) produced under lower (than needed)
 rendering temperatures
 New (unknown) pathogenic agent – Prion
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

Disease characteristics:
  Extremely high heat resistance
  Long incubation time
  Limited knowledge about transmittance
  Inability to diagnose before slaughter

Need for traceability in animal feeds
BSE killing power

Specialist opinion before 1996:
 “The disease is not transmitted to man”

 1996 – first certified death
 Up to 2001, 89 certified deaths
Food safety threats from

Plant products
 Pesticide residues

 Nitrites – Nitrates

 Toxins - mycotoxins
Pesticide residues
  Old problem with new dimensions
  Limited information
  Recent research revealed
40% of samples with dangerous residues
3% above allowed levels
800 chemicals - ΜRL only for 73
How are MRL’s set?
What is their practical use?
Sustainability and Genetically Modified food

Crucial issues:
  Quality and safety
  Bioethics (Patenting genetic resources)
  Impact on the institution of Agriculture
  Impact of food security (food market control)
  Impact on consumer Rights (free, informed choice)
  Social control of food production

Who is to benefit?
  Switching on production priorities:
    How can we have safe, quality-food?
Need to change production priorities, from:
  low cost
  acceptable quality
  questionable safety

  high safety
  satisfactory quality
  acceptable cost
FOOD Processing
 Creating  food from raw materials –Adding value
 Use of a firmly priced raw material to produce a
  large variety of variably priced foods

Processing is meant to add:
   Stability
   Safety
   Quality
   Convenience
   Acceptance
   Value
   Processing may damage certain quality parameters
   Processing may lower nutritional value
Sustainable food processing
Using simple, straight forward, low energy, low-impact
  processing schemes to produce food with superb quality and
  nutritional value , close to that of fresh product

Additional sustainability aspects
   Promote the use of local raw materials and ingredients
   Minimize raw material losses and improve product yield
   Minimize use of additives with preference to natural ingredients (i.e.
    oreganon oil)
   Minimize use of water with recovery, recycling and process modifications
   Minimize packaging
   Exploit and upgrade waste to produce by-products
   Use renewable energy resources and minimize energy demands in food
Examples of food processing tools with
 aspects of Sustainability

 Osmotic processing
 osmotic dehydration of solid and liquid food
 osmo-dehydrofreezing)
New product possibilities (i.e. premium quality juices, frozen

   Membrane processing
   High Pressure Processing (HPP)
   Pulsed Electric Fields (PEF)
   Ultrasonics
Safety considerations!!!
Sustainable Food packaging

 smart    packaging: slow release of antimicrobials;
 oxygen or moisture scavengers to control packaging

 active   (“live”) packaging materials: plastics or
 edible coatings with competitive microbial culture
 to protect a sensitive product, i.e. meat
Sodium caseinate films containing a protective culture of
                         L. sakei

 A Na-caseinate membrane was developed with
  the incorporation of viable cells of L. sakei
               ( 106 cells/cm2 )

    « LIVE » -
             Sodium caseinate films containing a protective culture of
                                      L. sakei

                 Growth of L.monocytogenes in TSA medium (TSA) on
                 contact & without contact of the antimicrobial films
                                  (storage at 5 οC)
             8       Control (No Film)l

                     Film-Lb. sake Spraying                                              8
                     Film-Lb. sake incorporated                                         7.5


                                                                           Log CFU/cm
Log CFU/cm


                                                                                                                                 Film-Lb. sake Spraying

             4                                                                                                                   Film-Lb. sake Incorporated

                                                                                              0    5     10                 15             20             25

                                                                                                              Time (days)

                 0   2         4          6       8         10   12   14                      16
                                              Time (days)
Sustainability in food distribution
Actual shelf life strongly depends on time-
temperature history of product exposure in
distribution chain

FIFO (First In First Out) principle can prove very wrong

Need to continuously monitor actual shelf life

Time Temperature Indicators/Integrators (TTI,s )
Tools to protect distribution chains against malpractices that
would lead to safety problems (loss of lives) and/or financial +
image damages from product recalls
What is a TTI and how does it work?
Time Temperature Integrator (TTI)

Shows spent or remaining shelf life
                   Commercial TTI prototype

  Before                                            90 hours
 Activation        Activation       0 hours         at 10 oC

  two separate     At activation,      Microbial growth causes
compartments in      culture and      lactic acid production and
   the form of     substrate are      the pH drop is translated
  plastic mini-       mixed by        in a colour change of the
pouches with the    mechanically       pH indicator from red to
    lyophilized     breaking the             bright yellow
 culture and the    barrier that
medium with the    separates the
     chromatic           two
     indicator     compartments
Development Of A Microbial Time-Temperature

  Microorganism:                            10                                                                                                     6.5
                          35                         8° C
Lb. sakei LQC 1089                          9                                                                                                      6.3
                                            8                                                                                                      6.1

    Substrate:            25                7                                                                                                      5.9
                                                                                              12                          0

NB + YE 0.5% w/v

                                                                           lactic acid (mM)
                                            6                                                                                                      5.7

                               log CFU/ml
                                                                                              9                           -2

  + glucose 2% w/v

                                            5                                                 6          lactic acid      -4                       5.5
     (pH: 6.2-6.3)        15                4
                                                                                              3                           -6

Chromatic chemical
                                            3                                                 0                           -8                       5.1
                                                                                                   0        100        200
    Indicator:                              2
                                                                 viable counts
                                                                                                          Time (h)                                 4.9
Chlorophenol Red
                                            1                                                                                                      4.7

 CPR, 1.5% v/v of         0                 0
                                                 0          50    100                              150          200            250

0.2% w/v in NaOH                                                        Time (h)
Sustainability in food distribution chain
Other TTI possibilities:
Time Temperature Indicators

Indicate the trespassing of a temperature limit

Frost damage of fresh vegetables at T< 0 C;
Freeze/thaw damage of frozen products at T> -18C
Sustainability in food distribution
Food labeling and consumer choice
Fundamental consumer right:
freedom of choice based on adequate, informative labeling

US-EU dispute over obligatory labeling of GMO food

Nutrition and health information on packaged and non-
packaged food; consumers’ awareness of what they eat and its
health impact
   Sustainability in food distribution
   Globalizatinon and food market control
Remember that Globalization leads to:
Intensive competition for distant (global) markets & the
  need to use non-sustainable production “tools”
As a result, we have new safety threats of different type
  and scale compared to known ones – Limited
  capacity to handle them (food crises)

Lack of Social Control of food production/distribution
Food market control is concentrated in huge formations
  Oligopolies in food market control

With $120 billion in annual revenues, Cargill is bigger
than the economies of more than two-thirds of the
world's countries, including Kuwait, Peru and
Its sales exceed those of Disney, Kraft Foods and
PepsiCo -- combined -- and it is nearly twice as large
as its next closest competitor, Archer Daniels
   Oligopolies in food market control

 Food market control is passing in fewer
hands, with low respect to human values or the
 Small size agribusinesses are gradually (but
certainly) being driven to extinction

The food system is so centralized that, when a
  food crisis hits, we are less able to react
       Essential purpose of food,

is to nourish people and support life.

   With food oligopolies however,

            food is used to

control economies and human lives
        FOOD handling by the consumer
 Mishandling of food by consumers and food safety

 Consumer responsibility and the need for training
 Consumer responsibility for quality & safety

Mishandling of Food by the consumer will easily
cancel every effort and achievement of the Food
Industry with respect to quality, nutritional value
and safety (i.e. milk refrigeration study) ; thus canceling
the positive impact of valuable achievements in food
research; that is the impact of our own work as food

Consumer training can be more efficient than any other
intervention towards improved food safety
      Sustainability in FOOD consumption
 Questionable consumption ethics & unsustainable use
of food

The obesity and hunger epidemics

 Corporate (food industry) responsibility
“Western” style of eating results in:

High intake of:       Low intake of:
 Calories             Fiber
 Sugar                Antioxidants
 Salt                 Essential fatty acids
                      (i.e. ω-3, ω-6)
 Animal Fat           Trace elements
 Τrans fatty acids    Vitamins
 Cholesterol
      “Western” type diseases

 Obesity
 Diabetes mellitus
 Hypertension
 Cardiovascular diseases
 Anemia
 Osteoporosis
 Cancer
Obesity statistics ( )
          What is obesity?

              Obesity is a
modern, “epidemic”, devastating disease

  largely due to wrong (unsustainable)
           consumption habits
    Wrong eating habits are due to:
 Lack of nutrition and food education
 “Lack” of time - Convenience (fast food, TV dinners,..)
 Entertainment (junk food, soft drinks, alcohol,..)
 Consumerism (over-consumption, wasting)
 Fashion and style (consumer “programming”…)
 Deterioration of the family fabric (crisis of values)
 Devaluation of the importance of tradition
    How can we correct our eating habits?

 Improve Food and Nutrition Education at School
 Improve public awareness (radio, TV, media)
 Improve preventive medical care (prevention vs curing –
    Medical education?)
   Carry out clinical nutrition studies
   Establish nutrition policy (State, Federal)
   Apply understandable nutritional labeling
   Legislate and enforce corporate responsibility
      Food & Nutrition education
Primary/Secondary School education (canteens?)
 Open, seminar days for senior primary & junior
  high school students (Pilot program at Aristotle U)
 Introductory Food Science & Nutrition courses for
  non-food majors
 Medical School nutritional education (preventive
  medicine) – so far it is missing
Corporate (food industry) responsibility
  Study found that companies fail to live up to their
  pledges to cut down on sugar, salt, trans-fat,
  cholesterol, serving sizes, calories
  Producers, retailers and restaurant chains accused
  The world's top 25 food companies have not taken
  significant action to improve diets despite their claims
  Researchers at City University reviewed the
  companies' policies on nutrition, research and
  development, marketing, labelling and other criteria
  relating to health
                                     Tuesday April 4, 2006, The Guardian
 "Their performance is by and large pathetic.
  The companies that appear to be doing the
  most are the ones under intense pressure
  because their product ranges are the
  unhealthiest, but there is a whiff of
  desperation about what they are doing
  rather than long-term commitment to better
                 Tim Lang, one of the authors of the report:
“The Food Industry: Diet, Physical Activity and Health. "
           Company digest
Out of 25 companies, only
  5 reported acting on sugar
  4 reported acting on fat
  8 reported acting on trans fats
  10 reported acting on salt
  2 reported acting on portion sizes
  4 had stated policies on food advertising
  Consumer education:
  A challenge for ISEKI-Food Net and IFA

ISEKI-Food Thematic Network,

One of its main objectives:
“Establish communication with the general public
and the consumers”

ISEKI-FoodAssociation (IFA) – (
Food Info in 14 EU languages:
The entire world is suffering from food in one
way or other
Developing countries are suffering from lack of
food (hunger)
Developed countries are suffering from wrong
use of food and lack of food (obesity and hunger)
Citizen - Consumer education is needed to
correct eating habits and fight obesity/diet diseases
Questionable production ethics put food safety at
a high risk
Globalization, GMO’s, biofuel production
pose severe threats to world food security

Sustainability is a major issue in all stages
of food production, processing, distribution
and consumption

Our society needs to meet a big challenge:
Secure access to Safe Food and Healthy
eating for All
Thanks for your kind attention!!!
Parthenon from SW (finished 438 BC)

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