Sweeteners and sweetness enhancers
In recent decades, sweeteners and sweetness (flavour) enhancers (S&SEs) have become key ingredients in food produced and consumed in the EU, and exported to and from it. Because of their diversity (natural/artificial, geographical origin, processing, caloric content, etc.), S&SEs are used in different foodstuffs and food processes and in different dosages. However, information is lacking about new and emerging S&SEs throughout the agri-food chain, (e.g. their potential use in single or multiple food (ingredient) production chains, traceability, production and/or processing (cost) efficiency, safety and quality risks/benefits (for single or combined use), allergenicity and sustainability). The interaction of all these factors influences the role of S&SEs in a healthy diet and the fight against obesity. In addition, the toxicological impact of high doses, combined effects and the prolonged use of S&SEs are still unknown and the health-related aspects need further investigation.
Proposals should focus on health, obesity and safety aspects (including combined/prolonged use, metabolic effects and gut brain signalling, neuro-behaviour, and effects on the microbiota) associated with S&SEs. Activities indicated in the proposals should explore the sustainability of the whole value chain (ingredient sourcing, production/processing, market opportunities for new and emerging S&SEs). They should investigate consumer perceptions and preferences giving proper consideration to the underlying physiological, psychological and socio-economic drivers. The approach should be interdisciplinary and should give careful and detailed consideration to the regulatory framework. Proposals should also include dissemination to all stakeholders as well as the food industry, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Where relevant, proposals should address gender-specific aspects and the gender dimension in the research content shall be taken into account.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 9 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
With the objective of combating obesity, while improving sustainable food security in the EU, proposals should show how some, or all, of the following impacts will be achieved:
- Promote healthy diets and contribute to combating obesity while improving sustainable food security in the EU.
- Stimulate market uptake (with a specific focus on small and medium-sized enterprises) of new, healthy and sustainable S&SEs.
- Strengthen the EU economy with a move towards more sustainable and future-oriented business practices.
- Dissemination to EU food, health and food ingredient stakeholders, especially to food-related SMEs.
- Evidence-based policy inputs on health, environmental and food safety issues.