METROFOOD-RI consists of a physical infrastructure (P-RI) and an electronic infrastructure (e-RI) to coordinate and integrate existing networks of plants, laboratories, experimental fields/farms for crop production/animal breeding, small-scale plants for food processing and storage, kitchen-labs for food preparation. The e-RI will make available an access platform to share and integrate knowledge and data on metrological tools for food analysis, focusing on food composition, nutritional contents, levels of contaminants and markers.
The physical infrastructure
The physical infrastructure includes:
- The “Metro” side
- The “Food” side
The “METRO side” consists of:
- analytical labs for the development and validation of new methods for the chemical, physical-chemical and (micro)biological characterisation of foods and any matrix of interest for the agrifood system (environmental matrixes from the agro-ecosystem of production, packaging and other food contact materials, etc.)
- devices and plants for the development, production, characterisation and certification of new Reference Materials for the agrifood sector
The “FOOD side” consists of: experimental fields/farms/fisheries for crop production and animal breeding; small-scale plants for food processing and storage, application of new (mild) technologies in food processing and by-product valorisation; kitchen-labs for food preparation and storage. This allows to study food quality, safety and authenticity and characterise/valorise products, by-products and processes all along the food chain, up to final consumption.
The electronic infrastructure
The e-component of METROFOOD-RI consists of a service-oriented architecture providing a platform accessible to the user community (in Europe and beyond) for sharing and integrating data, knowledge and information about food analysis, food composition, nutritional contents, level of contaminants and markers. It will also collect the results provided by the physical component, organizing and complementing them with existing data and providing tools for its uses. The e-RI is being developed by integrating different data sources, and services are being implemented to compare and make interoperable food data and any other data of interest in relation to agrifood and effects on human health, as well as to find out the metrological tools for the analytical purposes related to food and nutrition. This data are analytical results, but include also analytical information and knowledge about methods, standards, best practices, publications, etc.
The physical and the electronic infrastructures are strictly interconnected, working in close relationships, and therefore METROFOOD-RI must be seen as a Research Infrastructure as a whole. The electronic infrastructure will collect also new results from the physical infrastructure, organizing and integrating them with existing data. Conversely, the physical infrastructure will make use of data and information available via the electronic infrastructure. In this way, the P-RI outputs (e.g.: new RMs, new analytical methods, food composition data, markers, etc.) are inputs for the e-RI (databases on RMs and methods; food composition databases; geographic and genetic markers databases, etc.), and vice-versa the e-RI will support the experimental activities of the laboratories involved in the P-RI by providing information and data, such as: available metrological tools (e.g. RMs, reference methods, guidelines and harmonised procedures), threshold values, food data.