Infrastructure for Promoting Metrology in Food and Nutrition
General Info

Agenzia Nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l'Energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibile - ENEA

C.R. Casaccia - Via Anguillarese 301, 00123 - Rome, Italy

legal status



remote, physical, virtual

The Infrastructure for promoting Metrology in Food and Nutrition (METROFOOD-RI) has the mission to promote metrology in food and nutrition & harmonization on a European and gradually global scale, by enhancing quality and reliability of measurement results and making available and sharing data, information, and metrological tools, thus enhancing scientific excellence in support to the agrifood system and in the field of food quality and safety, and strengthening scientific knowledge, promoting scientific cooperation and integration. It provides high-quality metrology services in food and nutrition, comprising an important cross-section of highly interdisciplinary and interconnected fields throughout the food value chain, including agrifood, sustainable development, food safety, quality, traceability and authenticity, environmental safety, and human health. It combines a Physical-RI (P-RI) and an electronic-RI (e-RI) for open data deposition, access, and processing. The P-RI coordinates and integrates an existing network of highly distributed state-of-the-art facilities including: in the “Metro” side, laboratories for the full chemical, physical-chemical and microbiological characterisation of foods and any matrix of interest in relation to the agrifood (e.g., environmental matrices from the agroecosystem of production, feeds, food contact materials, etc.), and plants for Reference Material development and production; in the “Food” side, experimental fields/farms for crop production and animal breeding, small-scale plants for food processing and storage, kitchen-labs for food preparation, and “demo” sites for direct stakeholder engagement (e.g., to run Living Labs). The e-RI consists of a service-oriented electronic architecture providing an accessible platform for sharing and integrating data, knowledge, and information on metrological tools for food analysis and for facilitating the availability and use of agrifood data to the user community. The e-RI collects, integrates, and makes the P-RI results open and interoperable, organising and complementing them with existing data and providing tools for various uses of the data, even promoting their interoperability and the integration with data arising from other existing networks and RIs. METROFOOD-RI users are individuals, teams or institutions; four main categories have been identified: Researchers and academic communities; Policy makers/food inspection and control agencies; Food business operators; Consumers/citizens. METROFOOD-RI is structured according to a Hub & Nodes model. The Central Hub (CH) will be the statutory seat of the ERIC and will represent the heart of the strategy, coordination, communication, and administration, and will manage the central e-portal that will give access to all the resources and services of the RI. The CH will act as a coordinating European layer across all National Nodes (NNs), while the NNs will represent the operational sites of the infrastructure.
Total Investment 102,4 M€ Design 4,7 M€ Preparation 48,3 M€ Implementation 60 M€ Operation 30,7 M€/year Project 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 2018 2020 2022 2024 2026 2028 2030 2032 2034 2036 2038 RM06 RM08 RM10 RM16 RM18 RM21 LA24
Roadmap Entry
as project: 2018
Total investment
102,4 M€
Design Phase
4,7 M€
Preparation Phase
48,3 M€
Implementation Phase
60 M€
Operation start
30,7 M€/year
METROFOOD-RI was designed in 2015 and referred as an “emerging project” for the domain “Health and Food” in the ESFRI Roadmap 2016. In 2017 its “Early Phase” was completed upon the EU H2020 PRO-METROFOOD project (GA 739568). Subsequently, it was included in the ESFRI Roadmap 2018 as “project” and its “Preparatory Phase” was completed in May 2022 upon the EU H2020 METROFOOD-PP project (GA 871083). The ERIC Step 1 application was submitted to the EC in January 2023. Currently, METROFOOD-RI is undertaking its Early Phase Implementation upon the HEu METROFOOD-EPI project (GA 101130162), which will end in December 2024. An impact study was completed, showing that METROFOOD-RI will promote the acceleration of scientific discovery, innovation and competitiveness, growth and jobs, economic and social cohesion, all representing essential components of sustainable development. It will contribute to a new research approach that allows metrological data flows through networks in a way that will facilitate trade, competitiveness, quality and consumer satisfaction of food and nutrition data at the European level, but also at regional and national level. Some practical examples are: attribution of quality indexes to food, which is a key element to address and benefit the research in the food industry, as well as to promote products through the assignment of trademarks to protect origin; support the attribution of added value to products through the knowledge of nutritional and health characteristics, apart from the verification of contamination absence; aid for agrifood industries, particularly SMEs, to solve their issues applying innovative technologies to successfully reach the market; enforcement of consumers’ trust and establishment of a virtuous circle of supply & demand. Positive outcomes will be produced also in relation to big data accessibility, collection and reliability, with advantages in terms of reduced costs, improvement of data quality and integrity, availability of reliable data in real-time; reduction in the time between action and monitoring; building of public trust in data, and expansion of the people’s ability to use them.
A service chart has been designed that includes the definition and evaluation of all the potential services that the infrastructure can/will provide to users. The services have been detailed and classified based on different criteria (e.g.: physical, electronic, combined; way of organization and provision: by specific service, by technique, by specific application, access type). Services have been grouped into six broad categories: Primary food production; Food processing & kitchen labs; Analytical labs; RM plants; e-services; Others. These categories have been further divided in service areas: Food safety; Food quality; Food authenticity & traceability; Nutrition; Food Contact Materials; Nanomaterials; Plant health; Environmental impacts on food production, safety & quality; Novel foods & new techniques in food production; Processing techniques to improve safety & quality; Novel foods; Valorization of agro-waste & food by-products; Engineering techniques for food industry; Food packaging & preservation; Design, development and production of agrifood RMs; Databases and tools. For each service area, sub-groups have been introduced to specify the service type: Analysis/R&D; Interlaboratory and Proficiency testing; Lab & field experiments; Demonstration & Training. The added value of the RI is the ability to combine and integrate a wide diversity of expert services overarching all metrological aspects of the food chain, from farm to fork. A number of strategically important challenges were identified, spanning inter- and multidisciplinary areas. Integrated services are mostly referred to: circular bioeconomy, Living Labs, Food traceability and transparency; Virtual access services.
Active collaborations with other RIs have been established mostly in the frame of H2020 and HEu funded projects (e.g. INFRA-SERV, INFRA-DEV, INFRA-EOSC). They involve RIs mostly in the Health and Food domain, such as EMPHASIS, IBISBA, AnaEE ERIC, EIRENE RI, INSTRUCT ERIC, EMBRC ERIC, MIRRI, and ELIXIR, but also some RI in the Environment domain such as LifeWatch ERIC, and are referred to the application of integrated, inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches in agrifood systems to support, e.g., the agroecological transition and the transition towards more balanced and sustainable food production, sustainable aquaculture, fisheries and the blue economy, technologies and services relevant to understanding the impact of, e.g., artificial materials on health, food and the environment, all applying a One Health approach. They are focused in comprehensively mapping technologies and services for tackling with specific challenges, developing cross-disciplinary solutions and new technological approaches, provision of services even integrated among facilities of different RIs, stakeholder engagement and application of co-creation approaches such as Living Labs. Specific collaborative actions have been dedicated to data integration and FAIR-ness and federation of existing and emerging datasets, tools and services for food nutrition, security and traceability and are ongoing for integrating with EOSC, including the implementation of a node and data space within it.