ALID - Systèmes Alimentaires Durables - Edition 2012

Safety of Organic Meat – SOMEAT

Safety of organic meat

In a report published in 2011, the French Scientific Council for Organic Agriculture underlined that food safety was the prime motivation driving 95% of the consumers of organic food, although very few scientific data were available to support this presumption of a health benefit. The issue is critical for animal-derived food products which may accumulate environmental contaminants or antibiotics and whose reputation of safety suffers from the multiple crises of the last decades.

Key issues

The SOMEAT project 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. The project will also give new insights into socio-economic determinants of organic meat consumption and propose new strategies to back-trace contaminants in the meat chain.

1/ to assess the chemical contaminant status of both conventional and organic meat. Targeted environmental micropollutants, antibiotics, pesticides, mycotoxins and heavy metals will be quantified by National Reference Laboratories (NRLs) on a representative sample set including both conventional and organic raw meat.
2/ to assess the corresponding chemical risk for conventional and organic meat consumers. The project will investigate the three main technological and physiological processes that may modulate the toxicological impact of meat contaminants: (i) effects of cooking on the meat contaminants on the priority list, (ii) their bioaccessibility for intestinal absorption based on in vitro digester experiments and (iii) their toxicity in mixtures by assessing cytotoxicty, genotoxicity and PXR activation on in vitro cell cultures exposed to realistic mixtures of meat contaminants.
3/ to identify the socio-demographic variables explaining the consumption of organic meat. To make up for the poor precision of existing data, a field survey and a lab experiment of experimental economics will be undertaken. The survey will be carried out in-store to precisely characterize the consumers' motivation toward organic or conventional meat. The lab experiment will estimate participants' purchase choices under different certification labels or promotion configurations. This characterization of the organic consumption will allow a risk-benefit analysis linked to organic meat consumption.
4/ to investigate biomarkers to develop new analytical strategies based on their profiling in meat products to back-trace the exposure of meat chain to contaminants. Animal tests on poultry will provide control and diet-contaminated liver and fat. Levels of contamination will be established by NRLs. Metabolomic and transcriptomic analyses will be undertaken on the samples to determine biomarkers of animal exposure to be further validated on real-life samples.

So far, the main results have dealt with methodological developments (see scientific production)

To be completed

1 peer-reviewed article (J Chromatogr. A, 2015, 1392, 74-81).6 posters & 2 lecture dealing with methodological developments were presented at international conferences (6th RAFA, 38th ISCC, 9th GCxGC, Dioxin2014, 10th EPRW, 8th WMF, 11th AFSEP).

In a report published in 2011 defining the main prospects of the organic food sector, the French Scientific Council for Organic Agriculture underlined that food safety was the prime motivation driving 95% of the consumers of organic food, although very few scientific data were available to support the presumption of a health benefit associated with organic products. The issue is critical for animal-derived food products whose reputation of safety suffers from the multiple cattle crises of the last decades. In particular, the question arises of whether meat and other animal-derived products such as offal from organic production may accumulate environmental contaminants (pesticides, organic pollutants, toxic metals and mycotoxins) or antibiotics. The SOMEAT project 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. The project will also give new insights into socio-economic determinants of organic meat consumption and propose new strategies to back-trace contaminants in the meat chain.

The first objective of SOMEAT is to assess the chemical contaminant status of both conventional and organic meat. The priority contaminants will be listed, method specifications and sampling strategies will be defined, and targeted environmental micropollutants, antibiotics, pesticides, mycotoxins and heavy metals will be quantified by National Reference Laboratories (NRLs) on a large sample set (n > 250) including both conventional and organic raw meat.
The second objective is to assess the corresponding chemical risk for conventional and organic meat consumers. The project will investigate the three main technological and physiological processes that may modulate the toxicological impact of meat contaminants: (i) effects of cooking on the meat contaminants on the priority list, (ii) their bioaccessibility for intestinal absorption based on in vitro digester experiments and (iii) their toxicity in mixtures by assessing cytotoxicty, genotoxicity and PXR activation on in vitro cell cultures of human enterocytes, hepatocytes and hepatomes exposed to realistic mixtures of meat contaminants.
The third objective is to identify the socio-demographic variables explaining the consumption of organic meat. To make up for the poor precision of existing data, a field survey and a lab experiment of experimental economics will be undertaken. The survey will be carried out in-store to precisely characterize the consumers' motivation toward organic or conventional meat. The lab experiment will estimate participants' purchase choices under different certification labels or promotion configurations. This characterization of the organic consumption will allow a risk-benefit analysis linked to organic meat consumption.
The fourth objective of SOMEAT is to investigate biomarkers to develop new analytical strategies based on their profiling in meat products to back-trace the exposure of meat chain to contaminants. Animal tests on poultry will provide control and diet-contaminated liver and fat. Levels of contamination will be established by NRLs. Metabolomic and transcriptomic analyses will be undertaken on the samples to determine biomarkers of animal exposure to be further validated on real-life samples.

This multidisciplinary project covers both basic and industrial research. It addresses, through its main outcomes, the environmental, economic and social dimensions of food sustainability. Novel research and development will be undertaken in analytical chemistry, food chemistry, food engineering, toxicology, risk analysis, experimental economics, metabolomics, transcriptomics and chemometrics. SOMEAT involves 14 partners from both scientific institutes (INRA, ANSES, ONIRIS, AgroParisTech) and research and development organizations of the meat sector (IFIP, ITAVI and IDELE).

Project coordinator

Monsieur Erwan Engel (INSTITUT NATIONAL DE RECHERCHE AGRONOMIQUE - Unité Qualité des Produits Animaux) – erwan.engel@inra.fr

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

IDELE Institut de l'élevage
ITAVI Institut Technique de l’Aviculture
IFIP IFIP - Institut du Porc
INRA-ALISS INRA Alimentation et Sciences Sociales
INRA-URA INSTITUT NATIONAL DE RECHERCHE AGRONOMIQUE - Unité de Recherches Avicoles
INRA-GENIAL Laboratoire de Chimie Analytique / Institut des sciences et industries du vivant et de l’environnement
UMR 210 Economie Publique UMR 210 Economie Publique INRA AgroParisTech
MET@RISK INRA Méthodologies d'analyse de risque alimentaire
INRA-QuaPA INSTITUT NATIONAL DE RECHERCHE AGRONOMIQUE - Unité Qualité des Produits Animaux
ONIRIS-LABERCA ONIRIS - Laboratoire d'Etude des Résidus et Contaminants dans les Aliments
INRA-TOXALIM / AXIOM UMR 1331 Toxicologie Alimentaire - Analyse de Xénobiotiques, Identification, Métabolisme & Métabolomique
INRA-TOXALIM / TCMX UMR 1331 Toxicologie Alimentaire - Toxicologie cellulaire & moléculaire des Xénobiotiques
ANSES-Laboratoire de Fougères AGENCE NATIONALE DE SECURITE SANITAIRE- Laboratoire de Fougères
ANSES ANSES Laboratoire de Maisons Alfort

Help of the ANR 1,253,294 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: January 2013 - 48 Months

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