In a report published in 2011 to define the main prospects of the organic food sector (CSAB, 2011), the French Scientific Council for Organic Agriculture underlined that food safety and the absence of contaminant residues was the primary motivation driving 95% of organic food consumers. Yet according to the same report, very few scientific data were available to support the presumption of a health benefit associated with organic products. The issue is particularly critical for animal-derived food products due not only to their recent past in terms of safety crises, but also to the known tendency of these food matrices to bioaccumulate toxic contaminants such as environmental micropollutants, mycotoxins or antibiotics.
SOMEAT project has four main objectives :
- to assess the contaminant status of organic meat. SOMEAT thus aims to provide a first reference study to address the need for a scientific basis in the debate on the presumed health benefit of organic production in meat.
- to assess the chemical risk for conventional/organic meat consumers. This issue requires taking into account the main modulating effects of technological and physiological processes on the toxicological impact of contaminants.
- to identify the socio-demographic variables explaining the consumption of organic meat.
- to develop new analytical methods based on the profiling of targeted biomarkers to ensure the chemical safety of meat by tracing the exposure of the meat chain to contaminants.
The SOMEAT project thus aims to provide scientific data to fuel the debate on the presumed health benefit of organic meat products in regard to their possible chemical contaminant contents and the putative resulting toxicity potential for consumers. Novel research and development will be undertaken in analytical chemistry, food chemistry, toxicology of contaminant mixtures, risk analysis, experimental economics, metabolomics, genomics and chemometrics.