Research theme C

Food safety

Food safety is a topic of major interest and importance in the field of food science. In addition to existing issues, new ones keep arising. This holds true for both the field of toxicological food safety, with its focus on toxic compounds, and that of microbiological food safety, with its focus on microorganisms that represent a risk within the food chain.

Major research issues are: toxicogenomics, inter-individual differences in sensitivity, novel food toxicology, quantitative risk assessment, survival, growth, transfer and tolerance of microorganisms, detection of microorganisms, stress response, germination, sporulation, survival and microbial diversity understood by the use of genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and physiology.

This research theme is sub-divided into two themes:

C1 - Toxicology

The objective is to understand the mechanisms by which potentially toxic compounds present in food as natural constituents, as food contaminants or as a consequence of food manufacturing, processing or preparation, exert adverse reactions in humans. Furthermore, the aim is to study the possible genotype and phenotype factors underlying the interindividual differences in sensitivity towards toxic compounds and towards the protective effects of functional food ingredients against specific toxic effects.

C2 - Food Microbiology

Topics of investigation are the detection and molecular typing of microorganisms in food, their ecophysiology, predictive modelling of their growth and effectivity, taking into account stress response reactions which affect resistance and virulence, and, ultimately, quantitative risk assessment. The development of quantitative risk assessment models is an important outcome of these studies.