Eurofins, the global leader in the field of analytical services and a pioneer in food authenticity testing since its creation, is pleased to announce the launch of the TOFoo (True Organic Food) project.
The aim of this collaborative project, comprised of five partners from the food industry, laboratory analysis, and digital sectors, and four partners from academia, is to develop analyses and services to ensure the authenticity and integrity of organic food products. The project will be rolled out over five and a half years, with a EUR 17.3 million budget.
The project has secured over EUR 8 million in funding from the Future Investment Programme, run by the General Secretariat for Investment (SGPI), and operated by Bpifrance on behalf of the French Government.
Developing state-of-the-art analytical techniques at every stage of the food production process
The new solutions developed as part of the TOFoo project will enable those involved in the organic food sector (producers, food manufacturers, retailers, certification bodies, and public authorities) to ensure compliance with authorized practices throughout the entire organic food production process, reinforce protections put in place by the organic sector, protect organic market players, and sustain the dynamic growth of the French organic food exports.
In practical terms, innovative analyses will be developed to ensure the broadest possible monitoring of the sector. They will include methods to facilitate the collection of global analytical fingerprints of food products, allowing for their organic nature to be verified (“untargeted” approach), as well as methods to identify unauthorized food additives in organic products and characterize manufactured nanoparticles. These methods will be applicable to fruits, vegetables, cereals, and dairy products.
In situ analyses will complement laboratory analyses for fast and frequent direct monitoring of industrial or retail sites. Performed using portable analytical instruments, these analyses will provide early warning of issues in relation to the integrity of organic food, which can be confirmed by laboratory analytical methods.
Safeguarding consumer trust in organic food
Despite strict specifications, European regulation, and a system of certification for operators, the organic food sector remains vulnerable to practices that call into question organic food integrity and compliance.
Furthermore, existing control methods are limited, such as traceability, certification, or physicochemical analyses. According to the “Agence Bio” 2018 barometer, over 60% of consumers have doubts about the authenticity of organic foodstuffs.
Therefore, better analytical tools capable of demonstrating product compliance and conformity could provide a solution to reassure both the organic food sector’s players and consumers.
A project-driven by a robust consortium with complementary skills
All ten partners will contribute their specific expertise to the project: an analytical laboratory (Eurofins), analytical instruments manufacturers (Thermo Fisher Scientific and Myriade), a digital service provider (Atol C&D), a food company (Bonduelle), and academic institutions (the University of Nantes GEPEA and CEISAM laboratories, UniLaSalle Polytechnic Institute, GRAB Organic Farming Research Group).
Besides developing new analyses, each partner will also contribute to the development of new solutions: development of mobile devices for fast in situ analysis, laboratory equipment utilizing emerging technologies to enhance their performance, development and maintenance of a database of several thousand samples through innovative statistical practices at the crossroad of big data and artificial intelligence.
Eurofins, originally founded to provide authenticity testing services over 30 years ago, is proud to be driving this cutting-edge scientific project to strengthen the integrity of organic food production. Eurofins experts, based in the Group’s historic Nantes campus, are fully committed to developing innovative untargeted methods and thus contributing to safe, healthy, authentic, and sustainable food.
We are delighted to be part of the launch of the TOFoo project which will provide active support to the organic sector, from production to distribution. Now more than ever, it is essential to make organic labels more attractive through a consolidated quality brand image and tangible proof.
The project, driven by a solid consortium with complementary know-how, is based on a breakthrough scientific approach, in particular research on analytical fingerprints specific to organic food products."
Michel Daigney, Head of the Chemistry and Environment Sector at Bpifrance