Fermented foods have played a key role in human nutrition for thousands of years. Historically, the main role of fermentative micro-organisms was to counteract the action of spoilage and/or pathogenic micro-organisms, thus improving shelf life in the absence of a cold chain.
The diversity of fermentation matrices and practices has led to a huge diversification in the tastes and textures of fermented foods around the world.
Fermented foods represent 5 to 40% of our diet, depending on the country
Some fermented foods are highly emblematic of the culture and culinary diversity of European regions and are consumed every day for our pleasure. In recent years, there has been a renewed interest among European consumers. Numerous studies and data have recently been published highlighting the health benefits of eating fermented foods. However, a scientific reflection on the harmonisation of health benefits and risk assessments is needed. The challenge is also to federate and structure all the actors involved in the different communities interested in fermented foods to promote multimodal innovation and local production at the European level and beyond.
This European scientific and technical cooperation action (COST) was selected from among the 460 submitted to the selection committee in May 2021 and will start in November 2021. It is a continuation of the first proposals submitted by the INRAE scientific division Microbiology and the Food Chain (MICA) and more particularly by Sylvie Lortal, ex INRAE senior scientist, who initiated this project to bring together these collectives.
Share knowledge & Disseminate innovation
The participation of non-scientists in this COST PIMENTO Action is one of the keys to success in order to fully promote its societal impact. Their participation in the working groups is essential to increase the science-society connections and to foster the dissemination and share knowledge and innovation.
All interested persons can join this action provided they are backed by an institutional entity or a legal person and have the skills to contribute to the different working groups. Participants are expected to come from different working communities: scientists, members of SMEs, SMIs and industry, public health and regulatory bodies, committed consumers and representatives of consumer associations, journalists and media, chefs, culinary schools... Participation in the COST PIMENTO Action is not only open to citizens of the European Union and the COST network (38 countries). The COST PIMENTO Action is deliberately inclusive, particularly with a view to gender parity and the inclusion of young researchers.
The members of the network created by the COST PIMENTO Action will join different working groups to:
- build a multi-actor operational network
- make a cartography of the current place of fermented food in the diet of COST PIMENTO Action participating countries
- analyse health benefits and risks of fermented food
- design and implement actions of dissemination, training and events
- federate scientists and fermented food producers to boost innovation for society
For each working group, concrete actions are expected. In particular, the development of a web platform on a European scale (HUB) which will disseminate knowledge and resources, for the general public and actors interested or contributing to the production of fermented foods (database on fermented foods in particular). A scientific cluster will be set up to develop innovation on a European scale; it will bring together researchers and innovation players in the field of fermented foods from the academic and socio-economic worlds.
The long run goal of the COST PIMENTO Action is to place Europe at the forefront of innovation on fermented foods by promoting health, regional diversity, local production at different scales, thus contributing to development and food sovereignty. This vision, in line with the strategic vision of Horizon Europe, requires building the three pillars of transdisciplinary research, innovation and dissemination of knowledge.
This is the challenge that the COST PIMENTO Action proposes to scientists and non-scientists who wish to participate by joining forces to co-construct a multi-partner vision in the field of fermented foods.
If you are interested in participating in this network and contributing to the development of innovation in fermented foods, please consult the "Memorandum of Understanding" of the COST PIMENTO Action and contact the in charge persons to apply. The PIMENTO Action will start in November 2021.