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Ghent University - Articles and news items

Going green: Tuneable colloidal colour blends from natural colourants

Issue 2 2014  •  1 May 2014  •  Ashok Patel, Vandemoortele Centre for Lipid Science & Technology, Ghent University

Food colouring plays a determining role in the manufacturing of food products because the appearance of products is very critical for attracting new consumers and influencing their food choices. Food colouring involves the use of food grade colourants that belong to one of three categories: synthetic, nature-identical or natural colourants (produced by chemical synthesis with structures similar to ones found in the nature)…

Fresh produce rejections at EU border inspection posts

Issue 5 2013  •  4 November 2013  •  Sigrid Van Boxstael, Liesbeth Jacxsens & Mieke Uyttendaele, Department of Food Safety and Quality, Ghent University

The consumption and coincident international trade of fresh produce has strongly increased during the last few decades. At present, the EU is one of the largest importers and exporters of fresh produce in the world. Despite the beneficial health effects of fresh produce, there is a growing awareness concerning its microbial and chemical food safety. In the EU, in 2009 and 2010 respectively, 4.4 per cent and 10 per cent of the foodborne verified outbreaks were linked to the consumption of vegetables, fruits and juices. Such outbreaks have not only very severe consequences for public health but also a significant economic impact.

EU FP7 Veg-i-Trade investigates pre and post-harvest practices influencing microbial quality and safety of leafy greens

Issue 4 2012  •  5 September 2012  •  Maria I. Gil, Ana Allende and Maria V. Selma, Research Group on Quality, Safety and Bioactivity of Plant Foods, CEBAS-CSIC and Mieke Uyttendaele, Laboratory of Food Microbiology and Food Preservation, Ghent University

Fresh leafy vegetables (e.g. lettuce, spinach, escarole, cabbage and other baby leaves used in salad mixes) are an important part of a healthy diet. Global consumption levels are expected to increase in the future. However, due to recent disease outbreaks and rapid alerts attributed to fresh produce, concerns have emerged with regard to food safety. This was exemplified by the E. coli 0104 outbreak in Europe in Spring 2011. Experts have identified climate change and global trade to present further challenges for assuring food safety.

With the aim of giving an answer to the emerging food safety issues in fresh produce, the European project Veg-i-Trade is assessing the impact of anticipated climate change and globalisation on safety issues concerning fresh produce and derived food products. This multidisciplinary project comprises both fundamental and applied research. It focuses on the economic structure of the fresh produce global market and on the development of control measures for microbiological and chemical hazards. Veg-i-Trade research integrates several tools including sampling and analytical testing methods, field studies on pre and postharvest practices, quality assurance, modelling and simulation, risk assessment and risk communication. Results from the CEBAS-CSIC research team are presented dealing with pre and post-harvest production of leafy vegetables as well as fresh-cut processing practices on microbial and overall quality of leafy greens.

Industry’s approaches to reduce acrylamide formation in French fries

Issue 3 2011  •  7 July 2011  •  Raquel Medeiros Vinci, Frédéric Mestdagh & Bruno De Meulenaer. NutriFOODchem Unit, Department of Food Safety and Food Quality, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University

In 2002, The Swedish National Food Administration reported relevant amounts of acrylamide in several carbohydrate rich foods when baked at high temperatures (> 120°C) upon frying, baking and roasting. Toxicological studies demonstrated the carcinogenicity of acrylamide in animals and thus indicated potential health risks for humans. Consequently, in 1994, the IARC evaluated acrylamide as probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A)1 (IARC, 1994). Even though the risks associated with the carcinogenicity of acrylamide intake in humans still present some uncertainties2, this contaminant is present at quite high levels in many food products consumed daily. Because of this, it is essential to evaluate the ‘margin of exposure’ (MOE) for acrylamide, which represents the ratio between a particular point on the dose–response curve leading to tumours in experimental animals and the human intake.

Fat bloom and cracking of filled chocolates: issues for the European manufacturer?

Issue 3 2009  •  10 September 2009  •  Frédéric Depypere, Claudia Delbaere, Nathalie De Clercq & Koen Dewettinck, Laboratory of Food Technology and Engineering, Ghent University

The European chocolate manufacturing market, comprising over 2,000 companies and employing more than 200,000 people, has an annual turnover of approximately EUR 43 billion and exports chocolate for a value of more than three billion Euros. Specific for the European market is the large proportion (over 90 per cent) of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) which compete against multinationals by producing exclusive and niche oriented products like filled chocolates.

Use of molecular techniques in the food industry

Issue 2 2009  •  1 June 2009  •  Mieke Uyttendaele and Andreja Rajkovic, Laboratory of Food Microbiology and Food Preservation, Ghent University

Microbial analysis in foods is an integrated part of management of microbial safety in the food chain. Both competent authorities and individual food business operators use microbial analysis for monitoring of the actual situation and trend analysis in order to detect emerging risks. For compliance testing to defined microbiological criteria or assessment of the performance of management strategies based upon HACCP, microbial analysis is also a valuable tool. Molecular techniques, especially the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), are one of the most important rapid methods for the sensitive and specific detection of pathogenic micro-organisms.

A farm to fork approach to lower acrylamide in food

Issue 2 2008, Past issues  •  13 June 2008  •  Frédéric Mestdagh and Bruno De Meulenaer, Department of Food Safety and Food Quality, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, Belgium

In 2002, Swedish researchers discovered that within certain foods, significant levels of acrylamide, a probable human carcinogen formed during heating processes such as frying, roasting or baking. Free asparagine and reducing sugars were indicated as the most important precursors. Over the past few years, significant progress has been made to reduce acrylamide formation.

Molecularly imprinted polymers for selective extraction of mycotoxins in food

Issue 1 2008, Past issues  •  28 February 2008  •  D. De Smet, S. De Saeger and C. Van Peteghem, Ghent University, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Laboratory of Food Analysis, Belgium

This article highlights the possibility of using molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) for the selective extraction of mycotoxins in food, instead of immunoaffinity columns which are based on the binding of an analyte, to the corresponding antibody. An overview of MIPs, developed for mycotoxin analysis, will be presented.

Mycotoxin determination in foodstuffs

Issue 1 2007, Past issues  •  7 March 2007  •  S. Monbaliu, S. De Saeger and C. Van Peteghem, Ghent University, Laboratory of Food Analysis

This article focuses on the main principle of the liquid chromatographic tandem mass spectrometric (LC-MS/MS) determination of mycotoxins in foodstuffs. It also provides an overview of recent developments in mycotoxin analysis.

Reinforcing innovation clusters in the European food industr­y

Issue 4 2006, Past issues  •  6 November 2006  •  Bert Vermeire, Xavier Gellynck, Ghent University and Joep Koene, Development Agency East Netherlands NV

Until recently, the food industry was considered to be a traditional industrial sector with a low capacity for innovation, mainly due to the ‘basic’ character of food products. However, the globalisation of the food market in addition to changing consumer preferences profoundly affects the food sector. Nowadays, innovation is put forward as the main instrument to generate added value and to stay competitive within the fast evolving global food market. Innovation also plays a central role in European policy, put forward in the Lisbon Agenda (2000) setting the objective of becoming the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, with innovation as the key instrument.


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