safefood undertakes a wide ranging programme of research and knowledge-gathering in order to address gaps in scientific knowledge related to food safety, food hygiene, nutrition and healthy eating. This research is used to build the evidence base to support safefood’s consumer-focused awareness campaigns and help develop communications which are supported by science that is clear, authoritative, relevant and independent. Such scientific work also enhances our understanding of the potential hazards in the production of food, and the measures needed to minimise or eliminate these hazards.
safefood has a general legislative remit to carry out food safety research including:
• Identifying priorities for research
• Commissioning and funding research projects as necessary to fill identified gaps
• Establishing and maintaining a database of research programmes and monitoring progress
• Disseminating research findings to relevant interests
• Recommending action arising from research findings
• Maintaining links with international research bodies.
Since 2000, safefood has commissioned almost 100 research projects covering various scientific disciplines. These include microbiological and chemical risks & hazards; studies of dietary patterns; food intakes and attitudes among various population cohorts; food poverty; food allergy & intolerance issues. Surveys of practices in the retail and catering sectors help inform communications in both the food safety and healthy eating sectors. Research into consumer behaviour also assists with understanding the decision making process around food choice, portion sizes and the impact of food advertising.
In the area of targeting social need, safefood has commissioned research to help with reaching vulnerable groups and those with specific communication needs. Our series of Consumer Focused Reviews on specific foods in the food chain, for example, beef, dairy, chicken and pork have informed our understanding of issues of concern to consumers and any potential impacts on public health. Whether informing campaigns or increasing public awareness or addressing knowledge gaps; research forms the basis for much of the organisation’s work.
safefood does not consider this function in isolation, but as an integral component of safefood's primary function to 'bring about general acceptance that responsibility for the provision of safe food is shared among producers, processors, distributors at all levels, caterers and the general public'. To this effect safefood considers the entire food chain in its consideration of research and ensures that our research programme is linked to and supports our primary function. Promotion of food safety is targeted at the whole food chain and as a consequence, so is our research.
Research projects funded to date can be categorised broadly into the following subject areas:
• Food Hygiene
• Nutrition & Healthy Eating
Working with key stakeholders in research and other institutions, safefood has fostered all-island working relationships and enhanced partnership between research institutions across the island of Ireland. In addition, considerable emphasis has been placed on “East-West” co-operation with Great Britain, as well as the wider international research community.
For more information about safefood's own research programmes contact the safefood Research Office at +353 (0)21 230 4100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.