Not only food safety but also food defence

Recent events as BSE, bird flu, outbreaks of E. coli O104:H4 infection in Germany, have heightened our perception of risk and our sense of vulnerability in the industrial food sector. These incidents have happened in spite of the efficient Food Safety Regulation based on the HACCP approaches used in EU, US and the advanced World. 
HACCP is a systematic risk analysis approach used for the identification, evaluation, and control of food safety hazards. Food safety programs prevent unintentional contamination and refer to conditions and practices that preserve the quality of food to prevent contamination and foodborne illnesses. Unlike food safety or HACCP, the term Food defence has been defined as “protecting the nation’s food supply chain from deliberate or intentional acts of contamination or tampering.
In 2002, the World Health Organisation published a report stating that “the malicious contamination of food for terrorist purposes is a real and current threat, and deliberate contamination of food at one location could have global public health implications”.A report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security lists the variety of ways that food safety breakdowns can impact public health and the economy, underscoring the potential impact a terrorist incident could have on the food chain. 
The science applied to food defence is limited. The threat of an “intentional contamination”could manifest in a way which reflects the motivation and the capabilities of potential criminals or ideological motivated groups. It will not follow the statistically random, and therefore predictable patterns of familiar hazard so the standard HACCP food safety approach might not work.
In a world facing an increased risk of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and explosive (CBRNe) incidents or threats caused by man-made or natural hazards, CBRNe Security has become a high priority in the European Union and beyond over the past decade. 
In this context, in 2012 the Italian partner Tecnoalimenti, science and technology research organization for the agro-food sector, has strongly supported the introduction of the concept of food defence in a big research project funded by the European Union.

The EDEN project

The EDEN (End-User Driven Demo for CBRNe) Demonstration Project, funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Research Programme on Secure Societies, represents the biggest research effort ever made in the CBRNe area in the European Union, with the primary objective to provide solutions to improve CBRNe resilience and allow enhanced interoperability and effectiveness between CBRNe operators. The project, with a total investment of 36.5 million euro, marks an unprecedented effort from the European Commission to support R&D on the Security theme.  With this project the European Commission intends to bring to an upper level of maturity the resilience capacity of the EU society when it comes to CBRNe events.
The EDEN project, started in September 2013, for a period of three years, provides the link between end users, Research and Industrial entities and it is characterized by a highly innovative approach in the development of research activities in the field of CBRNE events. The sharing of the results between the parties involved, is and will be the strength of the entire management cycle by Europe in the face of such events.
The primary objective of the project is to provide solutions to improve prevention, interoperability and effectiveness of response between operators who are in the areas affected by CBRNE events, allowing even more efficient recovery interventions. The project will build on the results and successful completion of previous projects and is finalized to test in the field, with key demonstrations actions, the validity of the solutions sought. 
The EDEN project comprises a consortium of thirty-six members across fifteen different countries (in the EU and associated countries) co-ordinated by BAE Systems and Italian partner Tecnoalimenti for the Food Area. The consortium includes six main categories of CBRNe players: end-users, major stakeholders, large system integrators and solution providers, SMEs (Small Medium Enterprises) with innovative solutions, universities and RTOs (Research and Technology Organisations). The 36 partners of the EDEN Consortium will cooperate to achieve the development of a “multi-facetted system of systems approach” that will provide an EU-tailored solution able to enhance interoperability between CBRNe operators. 
A distinctive feature of the EDEN project is the activation of its End-User, SME and Suppliers Platforms. These are open bodies where end-users, SMEs or industry that are external to the EDEN Consortium can actively take part in the project with advice and feedback. Suppliers and SMEs can offer their equipment, technologies and services relevant for CBRNe contingency plans to the EDEN project, for inclusion in the EDEN Store and for potential demonstration during the project. Currently, the End User Platform includes 60 end users from 20 countries, the SME Platform 34 SMEs and the Supplier Platform 19 suppliers. All platforms are expanding their capabilities by recruiting new organisations via the contact points below. 


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