Food traceability research project announced by Cork-US collaboration

Meat traceability, ensuring watertight safety in the food chain and preventing food safety scandals are the focus of a four-year PhD project that is the product of US and Irish collaboration.

It will be funded by Teagasc and Musgrave and awarded by Cork University Business School at UCC.

This project aims to protect the integrity of the Irish agri-food system and respond proactively to the challenges presented by the growing complexity of global food supply chains, according to its organisers.

The project will focus on identifying factors that lead to breaches of food integrity, understanding the motivation of perpetrators and highlighting gaps in policy, legislation and technology.

The solutions to these findings will be designed for deployment at company, industry and food system levels through consultation with relevant stakeholders.

The PhD project will be co-supervised by Dr. Maeve Henchion, Teagasc, and Dr. Seamus O’Reilly, UCC, with advisory input from Dr. John Spink of the Food Fraud Initiative, Michigan State University, in the US.

Dr. Henchion said: “Ultimately, this project will provide the knowledge base to ensure that Ireland has the appropriate policies and strategies in place to ensure that all supply chain actors and consumers are protected from any potential deliberate adulteration of food products.”

This project builds on an ongoing programme of collaborative work involving Teagasc, UCC, Musgrave and Michigan State University.

In particular, Musgrave has worked with MSU since 2014 in the practical application of food vulnerability assessments that identify and address possible supply chain fraud risks.

The outcome has “enhanced authenticity and confidence in the products supplied to Musgrave’s retailers and consumers”, according to the company.

Dr. Spink said: “I am looking forward to working with Irish food companies, both retailers and manufacturers, and the researchers and agencies that support them, to ensure the integrity of supply chains involving the highly-acclaimed Irish food industry.”

Finally, speaking his views on the initiative, Ray Bowe, head of food safety and quality at Musgrave, stated: “Through our Food Authenticity Programme we are delighted to collaborate with Teagasc, UCC and Michigan State University and look forward to supporting the project.”