In 2018, we have witnessed the publication of the latest versions of several food safety standards as a result, among others, of the updating of the GFSI benchmarking requirements document the previous year. These updated certification programmes included BRC, FSSC 22000, IFS as well as ISO 22000.
Among the changes introduced in the different versions, special emphasis was placed on the measures concerning the prevention of natural, accidental or deliberate, food contamination.
The concept of food defence is acquiring a more relevant role. This term encompasses the activities associated with the protection of food supply, such as the preventive measures that companies must implement to reduce the risk of deliberate contamination against possible terrorist attacks, not only towards people, but also towards crops and animals.
Moreover, the level of demand on controls has been increased. The focus is, on the one hand, the risks associated with raw materials and, on the other hand, the use and maintenance of product inspection equipment, among others.
Therefore, as a consequence of the updates of the most widespread food safety standards, agri-food companies will face a double need. First, to incorporate new inspection systems that allow addressing unresolved problems with existing equipment, such as the detection of foreign bodies of low density in food; checking the integrity of heat-sealed packages; or the reduction of times in the analysis of chemical or microbiological contaminants. Secondly, to have personnel with knowledge and skills related to inspection technologies in different areas of the company: from decision-making regarding needs or investments to the calibration and management of equipment according to production needs and to the safety and hygiene programs and procedures in place.
Aware of this double need, AINIA Technological Centre has led the European project Erasmus+ UPDATEST ("Training professionals and students in new inspection technologies for the food sector") aimed at increasing knowledge, skills and abilities in new measurement technologies for the control and assurance of food quality, security and food defence.
Specifically, an innovative training program has been developed, both in face-to-face and virtual format, directed and adapted to the needs of students and workers. The face-to-face course focuses on food authenticity and delves into different technologies used in this field. For its part, the virtual course aims to give an overview of technologies, both mature and innovative, in the areas of food quality, safety and authenticity.
This initiative will contribute to promote open, innovative and adapted training to the reality of the labour market. To this end, it will strengthen the links between education, research and industry, in line with the Agenda for the modernization of higher education systems in Europe.
The UPDATEST project held its final meeting on December 17 at the headquarters of the partner Federalimentare (Rome, Italy) with the presence of the partners Fedacova, AUA and the coordinator AINIA.
The project is carrying out several events to disseminate the results during the month of December. On December 11, an event was held to disseminate the results in ainia with the collaboration of Fedacova and the assistance of 15 companies from the agri-food sector, potential users of the developed course. On December 18, an event was held to disseminate the results in Italy organised by Federalimentare in collaboration with Fondazione Bio Campus in Latina (Italy) with the assistance of more than 30 students of the Agrifood Manager degree, with the presence of Ainia and Fedacova
AINIA Technological Centre has led this project in which it has worked with the collaboration of four other European entities:
UPDATEST is an initiative funded by the European Commission and managed nationally by the Spanish Service for the Internationalization of Education (SEPIE), which is developed within the framework of the ERASMUS+ Program (the education, training, youth and sports program of the European Union).