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Since March 1 2006, thirty project partners have joined forces in the new EU-funded Integrated Project “NovelQ” which is designed to stimulate innovations in novel food processing and packaging. In this project, integrated strategic solutions for technical and basic research hurdles will be formulated for complex, real food products rather than food constituents.

Enhancements to the state of the art of novel processes will focus on high pressure processing (HPP) for sterilisation of food, quantitative studies on the effect of pulsed electrical fields (PEF) on food pathogens and cold plasma as a surface disinfecting method. Other innovative topics include coupling of new packaging concepts to novel processing and solving R&D hurdles in implementation of advanced heating technologies.

Key scientific emphasis is put on plant-based products, both solid and liquids, including carrot, tomato, strawberry, apple and broccoli. These commodities have been selected because they integrate food structure issues, colour and flavour-related aspects, health-related components, including allergens, and food safety issues. However, the anticipated results will have broad applicability to other type of products, to the level of whole meals – including regional recipes that are typical of the rich and diverse European cuisine. To most effectively address these opportunities, further knowledge on consumer perception is crucial.

The integrated approach of new technologies, the objectives striving for fresh-healthy convenience foods, the unique novel processes being investigated and the strength of the cross-sectorial consortium together represent an opportunity to maintain and enhance Europe’s current competitive advantage in the global market place. EU policy relevance is further underlined via the production of eco-friendly, healthy and safe food – including convenience e.g. for the aging population in Europe – and through the context of incremental innovation.

European Novel Food legislation (EU-258/97) requires that detailed studies of the impact of novel processes and packaging on safety and nutritional value of food products be conducted. Such a requirement poses significant difficulties to multinationals, because the studies are complex and difficult to carry out given the relatively short time-to-market cycles of the industry. The situation is much worse for SMEs, where these requirements represent a major obstacle to innovation and market growth, because of high costs and time-consuming studies and negotiations. Attention will, therefore, be paid to determining how best to deal with these obstacles in order to strengthen employment within this innovative sector.

NovelQ is an Integrated Project, no. FOOD-CT-2005-015710 funded by the European Commission, within the 6th Framework Programme, priority Food Quality and Safety. The project has started on 1 March 2006 and has a duration of 5 years. It has a total funding of 10.9 million Euro.
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