Large-scale food scares like BSE and dioxin-contaminated eggs raised awareness about the health risks posed when a link in the food chain becomes compromised. In the wake of these crises, Europe has developed more effective safety mechanisms that trace food from the ‘farm to the fork’; a new platform is the next step in better protection for animal and human health through more integrated alignment of reference labs and research efforts.
The EU-funded One Health European Joint Programme (EJP) is a platform to boost cooperation between researchers, decision-makers and stakeholders in the field of medicine, veterinary science and consumer health protection. It is a huge undertaking involving 40 laboratories and research centers in 19 countries.
Each partner has been assigned reference tasks, which means they set the yardstick in their respective field of investigation. Communities or networks have been built around the key thematic areas of food-borne zoonoses – when disease or contamination pass between animals and humans – antimicrobial resistance and emerging threats.
Prevent, detect, respond
The main focus within each theme of the EJP is examination of infectious pathogens such as salmonella, campylobacter and Escheria coli, which can be transferred from animals to humans. Guided by ‘prevent-detect-respond’ security practices, partners are developing joint projects and integrated programmes in evidence-based risk assessment and management.
Scientific data, methods and software developed within One Health can be used by national and European institutions to assess health risks and possible preventive measures.
Knowledge-sharing, education and training are important features of the joint activities, with final outputs feeding into a Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda, and potentially leading to a European One Health P2P, a public-private joint cooperation.