Food and water quality, safety and security

Food quality, safety and security

The groups working on the Food Safety area evaluate the presence or production of chemical compounds that can be linked to food safety, as well as presence of pathogenic, indicator and spoilage microorganisms in food matrices. This issue is approached as biological risk with studies taking place on the interface between basic science and risk analysis, aiming at anticipating safety problems during manufacturing or distribution and contributing to improving preservation of food products. Risks related to microbial pathogens and antibiotic resistances can also be evaluated.

iBET is a partner of the network organization SELAMAT that brings together stakeholders dealing with food safety from Europe and Asia to share methodology and policy developments related to food quality and safety.

Food traceability and authenticity

The ability to track any food, feed, food-producing animal or substance that will be used for consumption, through all stages of production, processing and distribution is addressed in this area. In sector-specific legislation that applies to certain categories of food products (fruit and vegetables, beef, fish, honey, olive oil) new methodologies, chemical and biological, for identification of their origin and authenticity are to be developed.

Water quality, safety and security

Development of advanced processes for water treatment that allow freshwater resource availability through the use of sustainable processes such as membranes, advanced oxidation processes or bio-based treatments. These treatments have to be designed towards providing reliable and clean sources of water to different regions in the world with different socio-economic realities.

Chemical, microbial and parasitic contaminations can cause safety and quality problems in food and water. The drivers for food and water safety, quality and security are as diverse as fraud, introduction/development of new technologies (e.g. nanotechnologies), human demographics and eating behaviors, international travel and trade. The effects of these drivers are investigated and proposals for mitigation come out through new analytical methodologies ((bio)chemical, microbiological, molecular biology, new generation sequencing…) and new process developments for water treatment and reuse.

Water treatment and reuse

The challenge of the Drinking water quality and treatment area is to contribute decisively for increasing water supplies for human use, through enhanced technologies integrating membrane processes and advanced oxidation techniques (e.g., UV irradiation, ozonation, chlorination). Considering the overall scarcity of safe water, new sources of water will be used by effectively addressing the major barriers to source development: Organic (e.g. endocrine disruptors) and inorganic (e.g. oxyanions, such as perchlorate) micropollutant contamination; Microbial contaminants with pathogenicity and virulence; Biological, organic and inorganic fouling; Materials stability and aging; Eco-efficient management of residuals

Membrane processes not specifically operating on molecular mass exclusion mechanisms are investigated. Electrostatic interactions (for ionic micropollutants) and specific molecular recognition approaches are being developed when the problem to be tacked requires a selective approach, as may happen with biological and pharmaceutical compounds. Multi-barrier approaches are explored, namely combining advanced oxidation processes, catalytic compartments/interfaces and membrane barriers.