Slider

Challenges in food and nutrition

The food industry is facing some of the biggest challenges in history. How can we supply enough healthy food to a growing population in a way that is sustainable and trusted by the consumer?

Among industries, governments and sociatal organizations, awareness is growing that a shift is needed towards healthier, more-sustainable diets. In national and international agendas for research three important themes are prevalent in all these agendas: healthy nutrition, consumer engagement and sustainable food systems. These themes offer also offer tremendous business opportunities. Those who are early in marrying personalised products and services built on a deep understanding of consumer behaviour, for example, or in developing smart tools to support farmers in eco-friendly production have much to gain.

At TiFN, we believe only a holistic, systems approach can truly tackle the issues, challenging our largest system, our planet. Such an approach would focus on providing healthy nutrition tailored to peoples’ individual needs, based on ‘smart’ food production, within the boundaries of our one planet, yet producing sufficient nutrition to feed the global polulation. And, crucially, it would restore consumer engagement and trust: as a food manufacturer you can develop any product or technology you wish but, in the end, it is the consumer who decides to buy it or not.

By chosing this approach in eight innovation challenges in three strategic themes, TiFN’s research will remain devoted to its creed of industrial relevance, scientific excellence and societal impact:

iStock_000072354265_Small

  • TiFN

    Nutritionist Imre Kouw enjoyed her internship at Maastricht University, on muscle mass and nutrition with aging, so much that she decided to do a PhD in this field. She demonstrated that a 40- gram protein snack, before sleeping, improves overnight muscle-protein synthesis in older people. “The effect was potentiated by physical exercise, which increased muscle-protein synthesis by 30 percent”, she stresses. Her study was the first using orally-ingested protein drinks instead of infused enteral nutrition and the data was collected via state-of-the-art methodologies. “We included 60 healthy older males who slept in our laboratory for one night, drank specifically produced labelled milk before sleep and underwent two muscle biopsies – while we stayed up all night to take hourly blood samples.” Kouw’s research provides food manufacturers with new opportunities for product development and hospitals with ways to optimize their meal services – for example by supplying protein-rich meals and supplements and protein-rich snacks before patients sleep.

    Read more
  • TiFN

    Kidney transplant recipients, and women in general, could be the beneficiaries of vitamin B6 supplementation. This is one of the conclusions from research by TiFN PhD fellow Isidor Minović. "For many patient groups, the occurrence and potential clinical implications of vitamin deficiency are unknown.” As such, the benefit of vitamin supplementation in, for example, people with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, is unclear, and people might be putting themselves at unnecessary risk of vitamin toxicity. Therefore, to investigate the role of vitamin deficiency in fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, Minović performed an extensive quality assessment and meta-analysis. “We concluded that the evidence from existing studies does not justify the often high micronutrient dosages of these patient groups.” In other populations, Minović found indications that being insufficient in certain vitamins, could be clinically relevant. “Data from several large cohort studies, indicated that people low in vitamin B6 have an increased risk of long-term mortality due to cardiovascular diseases. This applied to both kidney transplant recipients and women in general”, says Minović. “Before any recommendations can be made, intervention studies should be carried out”, he stresses.

    Read more
  • TiFN

    Today, TiFN delivers its 200th PhD candidate. Mariya Tarazanova, like all these other young innovators, was trained to bridge the gap between science and industry. The thesis that Mariya Tarazanova defended today at the University of Groningen provides insights and tools that allow the food industry to improve existing or formulate new, fermented, products without changing production processes. Tarazanova is one of the first scientists to investigate the underlying molecular mechanisms of lactic acid bacteria interacting with food matrices. As a member of TiFN, the food technologist made her first acquaintance with advanced microbial genetics, bioinformatics, and cloning software. “I learnt a lot about the theory, and about translating the outcomes into daily industry practice”, she says. With such a focus on microscopic mechanisms, Tarazanova found it difficult, at times, to step back and look at the bigger picture. “My supervisors and industry partners helped me by asking questions that needed deep reflection.” For 21 years TiFN has been leading the way towards effective public private partnerships to create impact for food science and industry. TiFN was founded with the aim to strengthen the impact of scientific research for the food industry.

    Read more
  • TiFN

    The first TiFN Retreat was held on 27 September. Over 90 PhD students, project leaders, board members and staff met at the Burgers Bush Zoo in Arnhem to discuss the role of TiFN and how this role could be further strengthened. TiFN's collaboration model offers absolute added value to both industry and knowledge instutes as well as the PhD students: "TiFN is a fantastic breeding ground to learn to work with different parties", said Rolf Bos, former theme director". Board member Jan Sikkema foresees a bright future: "The societal challenges that we face now are too big to tackle alone. How can one party tackle the issue of feeding the world in a sustainable way? I think that TiFN's collaboration model offers absolute added value when working on these kinds of issues. So we have wonderful opportunities ahead.”

    Read more