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Fields & Applications Food, Beverage & Agriculture

Partnering Up for Food Harmony

China is now Europe’s largest source of imports, and the second most important export market overall (behind the USA). Bilateral European Union (EU)–China trade amounted to €520 billion in 2015, and this is expected to reach €700 billion by 2020. Part of this – of course – includes the trade of food items. Yet, consumer trust in the food industry across both the EU and China has been damaged by numerous accidental and deliberate food contamination and adulteration incidents, such as the 2008 Chinese melamine incident, and the 2013 EU horsemeat scandal. The ability of EU companies to export foods to and import foods from China has been hampered by these safety, traceability, regulatory, and fraud issues. And Chinese companies trying to export to Europe face similar obstacles.

Twenty-first century food supply chains are increasingly complex and highly vulnerable to safety and fraud threats. Increasing demand and growing markets then enhance the likelihood of food safety incidents and deliberate contamination, which in turn ruins consumer trust and undermines legitimate trade at domestic and international levels. Furthermore, laboratories in Europe and China are often working to different quality standards and using different analytical methods for data production towards certification and confirmation purposes, which can lead to protracted trade disputes and embargoes. An analytical partnership between the two bodies is needed to ensure consumer safety and fruitful trade.

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About the Author

Martin Rose

Martin Rose, environmental contaminants and food integrity, Fera Science Ltd, York, UK.

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