One of the main challenges that food and nutrition research faces nowadays is big data management. This combined with new developments in digital technologies and big data analysis opens up new ways of communicating with the users. The challenge is to integrate these new approaches and apply them to the food area. Within the food safety and quality area, there is great potential for the generation and utilization of big data to obtain new biological insights. Food safety and quality systems are based on a sound scientific base of risk assessment of both microbiological and chemical (toxicological) contaminants. The big data revolution nowadays enables one to very quickly combine and correlate massive amounts of data that are mostly unstructured. We need to know better how to handle the large amount of data generated (big data) and how to ethically utilize such data. Also, sharing such data throughout the food channel is limited because the owners of the data do not want to lose the competitive advantage they can gain from it. One way to do this is to allow machines (i.e. computers) to understand and extract the information without the help of a human user. It describes technologies and methods that convey the meaning of the information. To enrich for example isotopic data that are used for food authenticity and traceability by semantics, an ontology (i.e. semantic data model) that describes the isotopic domain is required. This would enable harmonization between researchers and laboratories and would allow users to store their data using the ontology.
Therefore, the obtained data needs to be processed in a meaningful way to extract trends and to identify gaps that is also addressed in METROFOOD-RI research infrastructure, which has been included in the ESFRI Roadmap 2018 in the domain Health and Food. With its e-component METROFOOD-RI will also allow the creation and interoperability of food data, and overcome the fragmentation of food data by combining essential information about food production, diet, health, and consumer behaviour. METROFOOD-RI will act dynamically by offering services in real-time tailored to the stakeholders' needs in order to offer the best solutions for maintaining food safety, quality and the traceability of products and processes.