Researchers involved in the EuroDISH project, which has run since September 2012, have just presented their roadmap for setting up a pan-European food and health research infrastructure (RI) by 2025, at the Expo in Milan, Italy. They say such an infrastructure would help steer the food industry’s innovation efforts and keep it competitive, while also plugging data gaps and giving policymakers better scientific insights to improve health outcomes.
DISH stands for determinants (why people choose certain foods), (food) intake, (dietary) status, and health, and EuroDISH scientific coordinator Professor Pieter van ‘t Veer, of Wageningen UR, says research in these areas is currently fragmented.
“We have these four different areas in research, and now because of research traditions, all these areas tend to be quite separate,” he said in an interview for the project. “To address the challenges of our society with respect to sustainable food production and healthy food production what is needed is that we are able to connect those areas.”
The researchers acknowledged that stakeholder support, as well as funding at both a national and EU level, would be needed to implement the infrastructure.
Van’t Veer said the starting point would be combining information from each of the research disciplines and making it publically available – including some industry data, which often is not in the public domain.
“Then we would be able to publish better advice and better policies, better product development that would help for consumers to make better choices and would serve public health,” he said.
The aim of presenting the project’s results at the Expo was to gain support for the infrastructure and to start addressing some of the issues that it would raise, including ethical and data ownership issues, he said.
“In about five to 10 years we want to have this system operational,” he said.