Call for partners: Safe Circular Urban Food Production

Wageningen Food Safety Research (WFSR) aims to address the safety of circular urban agricultural systems. We will start a project on the identification of food-safety hazards in a selection of circular urban agriculture systems Our contribution will be evaluating the presence of food safety hazards, such as pharmaceuticals, heavy metals and pesticides in municipal organic waste streams. Part of the project will be the assessment of potential hazards, defining critical points in safe urban food chains, and the development of a guidance protocol that aids citizens and stakeholders in starting circular urban farming initiatives that produce food safely.

Safe and circular urban food production

Under EU law and the Green Deal Ambitions, the EU should reduce nutrient losses (-50%), the use of fertilizers (-20%), and residual municipal waste generation (-50%) by 2030 . Given these sustainability targets, there is an increasing interest in reusing/upgrading (municipal) organic waste streams as a substrate for plant production or fertilizer in urban agricultural systems. However, the safety of urban agricultural systems may be compromised by both urban environmental pollution and contaminants present in the municipal rest streams (such as compost) or waste stream-based fertilizer. For example, pharmaceutical drugs or pesticides may be present in organic waste streams, the soil may be contaminated with heavy metals or PFAS, or crops may be contaminated by dioxin deposition resulting from industrial activities in the city. This raises the question: “How to guarantee that municipal waste streams can be safely used to produce food within the urban environment safely?”.


Project approach and goal

The knowledge and awareness of potential hazards in urban agricultural systems will aid citizens to produce safely their food. We will work on 2 urban agricultural cases to be selected by the project partners before the start of the project. Examples:

  1. The production of food fed with municipal water and nutrients.
  2. The reuse of compost from earthworm hotels as soil improvement
  3. Authenticity control of food products containing precision fermentation products.


  • Demonstration of how municipal waste is used to produce food in an urban environment safely.
  • Development of a Hazard Analyses Critical Control Point protocol (HACCP) or good distribution practices for organic waste streams.
  • Development of a guidance protocol describing how to perform safety checks on organic waste streams and compost and how to safely apply these inputs in urban farms.
  • Determination of safe boundaries of slightly contaminated compost and soil.
  • Raise awareness of the importance of food-safety in food production in urban agriculture.

How can we work together?

Parties active in creating value with municipal waste are welcome to join us in this multi-year (max. 3 year). Public Private Partnership (PPP). Especially companies or organizations that are active and/or interested in urban farming, supply organic waste streams, compost/ferment organic waste streams or upgrade and those that can provide relevant know-how and technologies in urban agriculture and development of new circular food systems are invited to respond. We aim for government funding with a maximum of 50% co-funding from private and public parties.