The European Commission (EC) has launched a Knowledge Centre on Food Fraud and Quality in response to rising consumer concerns around food safety.

The Knowledge Centre is operated by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) and comprised of EU and external experts. Its aim is to provide access to the latest scientific data on food fraud and food quality to European and national legislators.

Food safety has been an increasingly predominant issue among consumers, and doubts over the legitimacy of some products have harmed European food industries. Recent cases of food fraud have involved olive oil, honey, fish and dairy.

The EC notes that European consumers are also exposed to ‘unfair commercial marketing practices’, particularly when chemically-different food products are advertised in the same way on different markets.

Commissioner for education, culture, youth and sport Tibor Navracsics, who leads the JRC, launched the new Knowledge Centre, saying: “The launch of the Knowledge Centre for Food Fraud and Quality is an important step. It will help protect the integrity of the EU food chain and safeguard the quality of food products, generating a clear added value for Europeans.”

Knowledge Centre experts will perform market surveillance on food properties, create a warning system to highlight food fraud for public use, establish links between EU and national food databases, and provide country-specific analysis by investigating laboratory infrastructures across Europe.

The organisation will receive funding from the EC and aims to collaborate with the existing EU Food Fraud Network to establish a forum for policymaking based on scientific data. All information, databases, maps and reports will be fully accessible to the public.

“Food is one area where science can very directly and tangibly demonstrate the benefits it brings to citizens. The quality of the food we eat is important to all of us, and because food fraud is a transnational criminal activity, the EU has a clear role to play in the response” Navracsics commented.

Commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality Vêrá Jourová noted that food safety is a serious concern for the commission, saying: “Providing for better scientific evidence is a crucial part of this work. This newly created Knowledge Centre, bringing together experts and knowledge from different locations inside and outside the European Commission, will further contribute to collecting and processing science-based evidence.

“Its work will also contribute to developing a common testing methodology, which in turn will help us apply and enforce food and consumer protection laws.”