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Top stories 2021

2021 Top Stories | News

2021-12-15: We need your input! Do you use branded food composition databases? Would you use one if they were more available? We would like to know more!

Previously, we have previously asked about your use of branded food composition databases. Following on from discussions at the EuroFIR Food Forum, we are revisiting needs and barriers as well as efforts to collect these datasets, open access publication, and sustainability.

Please help us by completing our online questionnaire here

Feel free to share the link with colleagues, because we would like to hear from them too! If you have any questions or would like more information, contact us:
[email protected]


2021-12-15: Towards a childhood free from unhealthy food marketing

Up to 30% of under 16s are overweight or obese in Spain, Italy, Malta, Poland, Rumania, and Czech Republic, leading to greater focus on unhealthy food marketing targeted at children. Against this background, the European Public Health Alliance gathered experts in their field to explore the influence of food marketing on decisions around food choices…read more


2021-12-15: Consumers come first

Since the European Commission launched the European Green Deal, our food systems have been under greater scrutiny, especially regarding sustainability, affordability, and better understanding by consumers. SAFE organised this conference to analyse these challenges…read more


2021-12-15: Nutriscore: a high-level dialogue between science, citizens & operators.

This event, organised by Eat Europe and Farm Europe  brought together actors from different backgrounds to analyse front-of-package labelling, specifically NutriScore…read more


2021-09-22: Cancer Research Works: Improving Cancer Patient’s Survival Worldwide

To mark World Cancer Research Day (22nd September 2021), the Steering Committee, under the Presidency of Her Majesty Queen Letizia of Spain, organised an international meeting to discuss the importance of supporting cancer research to accelerate progress against cancer and the transfer of research discoveries to improve cancer survival worldwide…read more


2021-09-17: Workshop on e-Health

The Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) conduct technology assessment and scientific foresight projects and organises events, the last of which was e-health. Panellists considered the necessity of undertaking digitalization of health within the EU…read more


2021-07-28: Protein calculation workshop 

On Wednesday 7th July 2021, EuroFIR held an online workshop on Protein calculation. The meeting was co-chaired by Paul Finglas (EuroFIR AISBL) and Hettie Schonfeldt (University of Pretoria, ZA)…read more


2021-05-17: WholEUGrain

WholEUGrain is a EU-funded project launched in November 2019 with Beneficiaries from four countries (DK, RO, SI, and Bosnia and Herzegovina). The aim of the project is to facilitate and gain experience of the Danish best practice model for whole grain partnerships in other countries…read more


2021-05-20: Unleashing the power of law to promote better health for all

The value of legal intervention, and its inherent potential in stimulating progressive change for public health, is considerable and laws are expected to contribute to solutions to the most pressing global health challenges..read more


2021-05-26: Discovering FAIR Cookbook

FAIR Cookbook is a deliverable of FAIRplus (Grant Agreement No. 802750), funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) Programme, a private-public partnership that receives support from European Union’s Horizon 2020 and EFPIA companies….read more

2021-05-26:Best Practices for Effective Allergens Management

As part of the numerous events organised for the World Allergy Week, SGS hosted a webinar exploring key elements and best practices for developing effective allergens management programmes…read more

2021-02-08: Data needed for nutritionists, dietitians, and gastronomes to address influences of expected climate change

From the Health Sciences Faculty, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University, Turkey…read more


2021 – 02 -04: European Parliament Interest Group on Allergy and Asthma: recommendations

Around 13.5 million people in the EU live with asthma or allergies. It is estimated that, by 2025, one in two European will be living with an allergy including food allergies. The European Allergy and Asthma Youth Parliament has advanced policy recommendations to the European Parliament…read more 

2021 – 02 -04: International Year of Fruits and Vegetables 2021

2021 International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV) aims to raise awareness about the role of fruit and vegetables consumption in nutrition, food security, and health…read more

2021 – 02 -04: Death by chocolate: Global political economies of tobacco, alcohol, and junk food

According to recent studies, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are responsible for 60% of premature deaths in Europe, with cancer and heart attacks the leading causes…read more

safe

Consumers come first

2021-11-10

Since the European Commission launched the European Green Deal, our food systems have been under greater scrutiny, especially regarding sustainability, affordability, and better understanding by consumers. SAFE organised this conference to analyse these challenges.

An extensive list of speakers covered topics including labelling and nutrition with respect to more sustainable and healthy diets, food contact materials, and opportunities and challenges for a safe regulatory framework, as well as protecting consumers from misleading information, e.g., “natural” (for more information visit <https://www.safefoodadvocacy.eu/natural-campaign/>)

The panellist shared the same core belief that European Union strives for excellence in respect of all these issues, but there is always room to improve. In particular front-of-packet labelling and which should be implemented in the revision of the Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011, on the provision of food information to consumers, is still under discussion.

For more information visit SAFE’s website here.

Speakers:

  • Floriana Cimmarusti (Secretary General, Safe Food Advocacy Europe, BE)
  • Herbert Dorfmann (MEP, IT)
  • Dirk Jacobs (Deputy Director, Food&DrinkEurope, BE)
  • Sabine Pelsser (Head of Unit Food Information and Composition, European Commission, BE)
  • Nikolai Pushkarev (Policy Coordinator, EPHA, BE)
  • Piernicola Pedicini (MEP, IT)
  • Alberto Mantovani (Director of Research, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, IT)
  • Jonathan Briggs (Policy Officer, European Commission, BE)
  • Stefan Scheuer (Chief EU Policy Advocate, ChemTrust, UK)
  • Sidsel Dyekjær (Regulatory Manager, Varefakta, DK)
  • Francisco Guerreiro (MEP, PT)
  • Joana Grainger (Representative of the Australian Government, AU)
  • Livia Menichetti (Director General, EHPM, BE)
  • Bruno Viano (Managing Partner, ETHICA srl, IT)
  • Federica Dolce (EU Policy Manager, SAFE, BE)

 

marketing

Towards a childhood free from unhealthy food marketing

2021-11-09

Up to 30% of under 16s are overweight or obese in Spain, Italy, Malta, Poland, Rumania, and Czech Republic, leading to greater focus on unhealthy food marketing targeted at children.

Against this background, the European Public Health Alliance gathered experts in their field to explore the influence of food marketing on decisions around food choices. The conclusion was overwhelming, limiting the influences of advertising of unhealthy food is key in preventing further increases and reversing obesity trends in Europe.

The Spanish Ministry of Consumers Affairs intends to ban advertisements for unhealthy foods and drinks aimed at children and adolescents delivered via TV, radio, social media, websites, applications, cinemas, and newspapers. With this in mind, the panel launched a Blueprint Directive for the protection of children from marketing of nutritionally poor food. The aim being to present European legislators with expert opinion and the legislative framework for immediate action.

For more information visit their website here, where you can also download the presentations.

Speakers:

  • Moderator – Nikolai Pushkarev, European Public Health Alliance (EPHA, BE)
  • Amandine Garde (University of Liverpool, UK)
  • Jo Jewell (UNICEF, US)
  • Sarah Wiener (MEP, DE)
  • Nelleke Polderman (BEUC, BE)
  • Manuela Ripa (MEP, DE)
  • Patrick O’Sullivan (CPME, BE)
  • Sibylle Reichert (AIM, BE)
  • Shira Zelber-Sagi (EASL, BE & UEG, AT)
  • Kathryn Reilly (Irish Heart Foundation, IE & EHN, BE)
  • Tasha Mhakayakora (Bite Back 2030, UK)

 

European Public Health Alliance

nutriscore

Nutriscore: a high-level dialogue between science, citizens & operators.

2021-11-23

This event, organised by Eat Europe and Farm Europe, brought together actors from different backgrounds to analyse front-of-package labelling, specifically NutriScore.

NutriScore classifies foodstuffs from A to E, A being the healthiest and E the least healthy. Labels on foods with A ratings are coloured green while those on E-rated foods are red. If you live in France, Belgium, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, or Luxemburg, the labelling is commonplace, because these countries have implemented NutriScore, but discussions are ongoing in other EU MS and there are alternatives, such as the industry-based traffic light system.

While the aim is to help consumer make healthier decisions based on this simple coloured-labelling approach, none have divided opinion more than NutriScore. Created by the Santé Publique France, based on the work of Serge Hercberg from the Sorbonne University of Paris, and relying on computation of nutrient profiling from the UK Food Standards Agency, NustriScore has benefits and drawbacks. While it is, undoubtably, easy to understand, many actors would also argue it can also be misleading. Foods eaten can be graded as more or less healthy without the context of a balanced diet. For example, the zero-edition of a carbonated drink is B-rated, whilst smoked salmon has an E rating and extra virgin olive oil is rated as D.

Thus, NutriScore – like other systems – has its detractors and is flawed (e.g., scientific validity of the algorithm has not been proven) but these systems aim to communicate surprisingly complex information (i.e., what is and what is not healthy) quickly and effectively at the points of purchase and consumption. We (EuroFIR) advocate for rights of all citizens to know what they are eating, and the benefits and risks associated with free choice. Objective and clear communication of dietary information, based on scientifically validated evidence, is valuable for citizens wanting to make healthier choices. Also, that public authorities must provide citizens with a legislative framework that prevent publication of misleading information is essential, as is education of consumers about healthy diets and application of labelling information in this context.

Speakers:

  • Nicolai Worm, Nutritionist, former Professor at University of Saarbrücken (Germany)
  • Francesco Capozzi, Professor, Head of Interdepertmental Centre for Industrial Agrofood Research, University of Bologna (IT)
  • Luis González Vaque, Professor, Director of Food and Agrarian Policies of the “Fundació Triptolemos” (ES)
  • Adrián Vázquez Lázara, MEP (ES)
  • Marc Tarabella, MEP (BelgBEium)
  • Marco Campomenosi, MEP (IT)
  • Lucia Stella, Founder, No-Nutriscore Alliance (BE)
  • Sergio Martín Rubio, Director of Technical and Legislation Department, ANICE (ES)

Cancer Research works

Cancer Research Works: Improving Cancer Patient’s Survival Worldwide

To mark World Cancer Research Day (22nd September 2021), the Steering Committee, under the Presidency of Her Majesty Queen Letizia of Spain, organised an international meeting to discuss the importance of supporting cancer research to accelerate progress against cancer and the transfer of research discoveries to improve cancer survival worldwide.

The panellists tackled disparities in detection and access to treatments as well as research funding, as cornerstones improving not only survival rates, but also quality of life for patients. They called for increased national research budgets and sharing of data, so advances made in one part of the world can benefit others. They also promoted the World Cancer Declaration < https://www.uicc.org/what-we-do/advocacy/world-cancer-declaration>, as a roadmap for policy-makers to reduce the global cancer burden. Only by sharing knowledge and joining forces can we hope to reduce incidences and advance cancer survival rates

For more information on the World Cancer Research Day:  https://wcrdevent.com/

For more information click on the link here.

The panel was composed of David Tuveson (President of the American Association of Cancer Research, US), Clarissa Mathias (President of the Sociedade Brasileira de Oncologia Clinica, BR), Anil D’Cruz (President of the Union for International Cancer Control, IN), Hong Gwan Seo (President of the National Cancer Center of Korea, KR), Joan Seoane (Secretary General of the European Society for Medical Oncology, ES), Abubakar Bello (President of the African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer, NG), and Ramón Reyes (President of the Spanish Association Against Cancer, ES). The moderator was Julie Gralow (Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, US).

e-Health

Putting the “E” in e-Health

STOA conduct technology assessment and scientific foresight projects and organises events, the last of which was e-health. Panellists considered the necessity of undertaking digitalization of health within the EU. With the Covid-19 pandemic as a backdrop, they explored existing limits on sharing health data, one of which is data protection and the need for compliance with GDPR. Another limitation is technical, i.e., whether EU MS have the technical resources to share health data, although creation of the European Covid-19 vaccination certificate has shown it is possible to coordinate and cooperate in this regard.

 

Estonia has the best electronic public administration in the world and 99% of citizens have electronic medical records. However, the same is not true for most EU citizens and it does not make sense that citizens enjoy freedom of movement, but health records stop at the border, or even locally. Why is a prescription issued in Belgium not valid in the Netherlands? The panel agreed on the need for “data health activism”, making people aware of their rights, and welcomed creation of the European Health Data Space (EHDS), an ambitious initiative to create a common space for better healthcare, research, and policy-making.

The Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) is an integral part of the structure of the European Parliament, providing high-quality and scientifically impartial information and identifying options for the best courses of action. “Putting the E in e-Health” is comprised of Ain Aaviksoo, Chief Health Officer (Guardtime, EE), Henrique Martins, Associate Professor in Health Management and Leadership (University of Lisboa, PT), Anett Numa, Digital Transformation Adviser (e-Estonia Briefing Centre, EE), and Ioana-Maria Gligor, DG for Health and Food Safety, European Commission. The discussion was moderated by Marina Kaljurand, Member of the European Parliament and STOA Panel member.

Best Practices for Effective Allergens Management

Wednesday 26th May 2021 

Background

As part of the numerous events organised for the World Allergy Week, SGS hosted a webinar exploring key elements and best practices for developing effective allergens management programmes. Across the European food industry, allergens management is strongly regulated, as a result of the single market, because any error can have fatal consequences for a person with food allergy.

Fundamentals for effective allergen control include a dedicated allergen control team, an allergen processes flow diagram (allergen map), a risk assessment to determine allergen presence and management procedures, a facility-specific allergen control plan, and monitoring to ensure the allergen control plan is maintained and regularly updated, as required. From these basic guidelines, industry and food safety auditors design a holistic approach to minimise food allergy risks.

One of the major challenges for the industry is that food supply chains are complex and each element needs specific controls (e.g., identification and cross contamination) and updates including manufacturing processes, new product development or reformulation, documentation (records, due diligence), consumer information (labelling and legislation), people (training, culture and actions), suppliers (allergens management systems and risks), and raw material (intake checks, and storage, among others).

Main outcomes: 

  1. Food safety in general and food allergy, in particular, are highly regulated and controlled by public administrations
  2. Industry and retailers must comply with strict rules harmonised at the European level
  3. Technology has a role in prevention, as industry uses cutting edge techniques to identify hazards along the food chain
  4. A single analytical approach may not be fit-for-purpose or meet the needs of retailers
  5. Testing products with different techniques and parallel testing provide the highest certainty of allergen absence, although this ‘double-check’ may increase costs and the economic burden on businesses and/ or consumers.

This webinar was organised by SGS, a leading testing, inspection and certification company. 

Speakers:

Andrew Booth – Global food Technical Manager at SGS

Dionisis Theodosis  – Global Technical Development at SGS

Emma Ridley – General Manager at SGS

Unleashing the power of law to promote better health for all

Thursday 20th May 2021

The value of legal intervention, and its inherent potential in stimulating progressive change for public health, is considerable and laws are expected to contribute to solutions to the most pressing global health challenges.

Not only do international commitments to reduce disease prevalence often call for regulatory interventions, there is also growing recognition that the law, as a discipline, has a major role in framing effective public health strategies at global, regional, national, and local levels. This webinar explored legal channels through public health can be enhanced.

For instance, one of the most contested issues is food packaging. Used mainly to inform consumers about products, labelling has an enormous impact on consumer choice. However, legal regulations are a tool, but it is insufficient alone.

Success depends the collaboration of stakeholders, including the scientific community, food industry, and consumers, and the panel stressed the need of legal actions to create environments where healthy options -from food to physical activity- are the easiest as well as most affordable options.

Also, any solutions need to be fit-for-purpose (legitimacy test) and must not exceed the objective (necessity test). In other words, legal measures should not create unnecessary obstacles (oppose the industry), but rather be an opportunity to regulate food industry operators, providing clear guidelines for the industry and protecting consumers.

Organised by EUPHA Public Health Law Section and the UK Faculty of Public Health.

Speakers:

Professor Amandine Garde – Law & NCD Unit, University of Liverpool

Lawrence Gostin – Georgetown University, WHO Collaborating Center on Public Health Law & Human Right

Professor Markus Frischhut – MCI

Dr Anniek de Ruijter – University of Amsterdam

Professor Martin McKeen –  London School of Hygiene

WholEUGrain

WholEUGrain

17th-18th-19th May 2021

WholEUGrain is a EU-funded project launched in November 2019 with Beneficiaries from four countries (DK, RO, SI, and Bosnia and Herzegovina).

The aim of the project is to facilitate and gain experience of the Danish best practice model for whole grain partnerships in other countries.

Overall, the objectives are to promote a good health through healthy diets, prevent noncommunicable diseases, reduce inequalities regarding access to healthy foods, and establish supportive environments for healthy lifestyle by developing country-wide whole grain public-private partnerships.

This event explored the benefits of a pan-European partnership on whole grains to enhance citizens’ health, discussed whole grains and cancer prevention, and whole grains as part of sustainability diets as well as the legal and social aspects of food labelling.

Wholegrain products are rich in fibre, an essential element of a balanced diet. However, not all wholegrain products are healthy, and we need to check whether products are also low in sugar, fat, and salt as well as containing wholegrain.

Organised by WholEUGrain, a European Action on Whole grain Partnerships.

The Agenda is available here.

Collaborative approach to climate change adaptation in Turkey

Data needed for nutritionists, dietitians, and gastronomes to address influences of expected climate changes 

Health Sciences Faculty, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University, Turkey

Turkey’s initiatives, such as becoming a party to international mitigation strategies on climate change, can be traced back to the 2009 Kyoto Protocol and 2012 National Climate Change Action Plan. There are clear indications that climate change is taking place in Turkey (e.g., spring rainfall is arriving later than it used to, delaying the harvest period) and Turkey is projected to be at high-risk by 2050.

Some influences will affect individuals, but most will have an impact nation-wide, including food security and dietary choices, and citizens need to be aware that some foods might not always be available. Climate-smart management measures also need to be oriented towards nutritional, dietary, and gastronomic activities, but knowledge and understanding of climate change is poor amongst these audiences. Thus, we need multidisciplinary collaboration to advance knowledge and understanding about the impact of climate change on food and work together to address the various challenges.

Success in delivering climate-change sensitive services depends on learning around environmental sustainability, but this topic is not included in curricula for these disciplines and climate change is ranked low against other priorities, and this must change.

The challenge of meeting individuals’ needs and preferences, while minimising related impacts on health and environment, requires an understanding of how consumption of diets/ foods impact human health and environment. Also, better exploitation of species and/ or varieties adapted to climate changes will help address food security and environmental conservation. In this respect, FAO HORTIVAR database is a useful resource.

Developing smart nutritional, dietetic, and gastronomic options (at reasonable cost, time, and effort) with advanced computational tools will help tackle impacts of climatic variables on dietary patterns as well as addressing any sensory, food safety, health, and gastronomic concerns. These also provide a robust background for more advance research methods. Working with nutritionists, dietitians, and gastronomes is important, because they are trusted by the wider community and can deliver information about how to avoid over-consumption and inefficient use of water, and reduce food losses and waste.

The EU contributes to international climate finance funding (ca. €100 bn yearly) and manages a €864 million programme (LIFE climate action) to develop and implement innovative responses to climate challenges. At least 20% of EU expenditure was climate-related in 2014-2020, and the EU provides financial assistance to Turkey through the seven-year multi-annual operational IPA programmes. Since 2002, €6 billion in pre-accession financial assistance has been allocated to Turkey, 15% per cent of which (about €1 billion) was for the environmental sector. Among EU-funded projects in Turkey, major themes include agriculture, environmental-energy, and climate change mitigation, but there is not a collaborative approach to climate change adaptation yet, which would help protect natural resources and ecosystems. The campaign for this is on-going.