Food safety and preservation

Micro-organisms poses challenges for the stability and safety of food products and are an important cause of food loss. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research helps manufacturers develop anti-microbial solutions that ensure the highest possible safety and quality standards and extend shelf life.

Researching anti-microbial solutions

Developing a preservation strategy requires control of microorganisms throughout all stages of the food production chain. To create processing and storage conditions that eliminate microbial contaminants, or prevent their growth, companies in the food supply chain need knowledge of the relevant species, and their behaviour and response to different preservation methods.

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research offers a wide range of service in the field of anti-microbial solutions. These include developing and testing the efficacy of preservation methods on target microbes, identifying microbes, and tailor-made advice on solutions to control microbial growth and hygiene aspects. We also perform hazard analyses for different food chains, from farm to fork.

State of the art research facilities

To research the most appropriate solution for specific contexts, we form multidisciplinary teams, with our clients, that include microbiologists, food product specialists, postharvest specialists and process engineers. Our experts understand every aspect of food microorganisms, such as spore-forming bacteria, pathogens (including Listeria, Salmonella, Campylobacter and Bacillus cereus), and spoilage-inducing microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast and moulds.

Our research facilities (biosafety level 2) are excellent for pathogen research. We offer a wide range of lab and pilot scale test equipment (e.g. HPP, PEF, cold plasma). We also have expertise dedicated to fungi-induced spoilage.

We employ an extensive toolset for screening for microbial growth in different food matrices. including high-throughput methods, for growth determination in 96-well assays that use live-cell imaging, optical density and molecular approaches. Flow cytometry, in combination with sorting, allows for fast screening of process and matrix variations in the outgrowth of many different types of cells and spores.

High-throughput screening

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research employs mathematical modelling to describe and predict microbial inactivation and growth phenomena as a function of process, matrix and storage conditions of food products. The models are used to describe effects of combinations of preservation problems.

Moreover, we have developed a variety of surface-decontamination models, including biofilms on stainless steel and other surfaces, for different pathogenic species, and models for spore contamination to test cleaning and disinfection strategies.

Want to know more?

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