Wageningen Food Safety Research specialises in researching food safety and reliability. We answer questions like:
What kinds of toxic substances are found in the plant?
Is this organic egg really organic?
Does this chocolate really contain 70% cocoa?
Is this fish fresh or defrosted?
Was this chicken given antibiotics?
Does this milk contain hormones?
Is this beef or horse meat?
What are alternatives to animal testing?
How can we predict food safety crises?
Answering these kinds of questions requires different types of research expertise and techniques, but also and especially driven and enthusiastic individuals. Is that you? And are you also looking for a traineeship or thesis subject? Then you’ve come to the right place!
Searching for substances
Unknown substances, forensic research, food fraud: one of our most important tasks is to research the safety and reliability of food for people and animals. We search for banned growth hormones, medicines, pesticides, toxic plant substances, nanoparticles and various polluting substances like dioxins, PCBs and heavy metals.
Unknown substances, forensic research, food fraud
For the most part, we search for known substances, although we also find unknown substances that can be harmful. We conduct forensic research and in this way determine, for example, the cause of the contamination. We also prove food fraud. This includes fraud involving components in foodstuffs. And we determine whether the origin of a product or production method is correct. This fascinating research takes place in very extensive and modern research facilities.
Is a substance safe?
We examine the composition of food in the broadest sense of the word:
What the substance looks like
The chemical components of the substance
The nutritional value
What the DNA looks like
How it is produced
The effects on your body
The answers to these questions are used to determine food safety risks. By simulating the digestion process in the lab (without animal testing!), for example, we can see what happens with the substances in the foodstuff during digestion and absorption.
The best research facilities
Our research matters and is conducted in the very best facilities. This also makes it possible to continuously develop new methods to measure even more effectively and quickly.
Methods for measuring a large number of substances (sometimes more than 100) in a single analysis, such as toxic substances that occur naturally in plants.
Molecular biological methods (bioassays) for detecting illegal hormone use, which also enables us to uncover unknown substances.
Methods for detecting low concentrations of genetically modified ingredients.
Methods for detecting allergens. We do this using biosensors to detect, for instance, nuts in biscuits, milk protein or gluten in a large number of foodstuffs.
Searching and finding methods that reduce the use of test animals.
But that’s not all…
Our research into the safety and reliability of food is highly extensive. Apart from measuring, detecting and developing methods, we also examine:
the effects and safety of new foods;
what health-promoting substances do exactly;
the possibilities of toxicogenomics: this entails examining the activity of all genes in a cell exposed to a toxic substance;
new food safety risks (such as due to new production and packaging methods, the use of nanotechnology, climate change, and so on).
Wageningen Food Safety Research is characterised by an atmosphere that is friendly, but above all ambitious. Our institute plays an important role in food safety crises both major and minor. We are looking for people who want to see this world from up close.