Food safety & quality

Laboratory of Food Microbiology and Food Preservation

The Laboratory of Food Microbiology and Food Preservation, led by professor Devlieghere, focusses on gathering knowledge on the microbial behaviour in food products during harvesting/slaughtering, processing, storage, distribution and preparation. Mild preservation and decontamination techniques are examined to prolong shelf life and to increase microbial safety. Quality assurance systems are furthermore analysed and quantitative data are collected to allow more accurate microbial risk evaluations. Mechanisms of microbial spoilage are also studied. Specific marine research topics include the development of conservation strategies for fish, the microbial ecology of fishery products and estimating microbial risks in fish and fishery products. 

Research Unit Nutrition and Food Safety

The Research Unit Nutrition and Food Safety, led by professor De Henauw, has nutritional research, food safety research and methodological research as main research niches. They focus thus on different food-related aspects (e.g. nutrients) and their impact on public health, chemical food safety in relation to environmental problems and food-technical procedures such as the use of food colours. Their methodological research supports both research pillars. Specific marine research topics include toxicological risks associated with fish consumption and sea food as a dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids.    

Laboratory of Chemical Analysis

The Laboratory of Chemical Analysis, led by professor Vanhaecke, focusses on the identification and quantification of residues (veterinary drugs, hormones, thyreostats, etc.), contaminants (marine toxins, micropollutants, etc.) and food constituents (antioxidants, etc.) or metabolites thereof in various matrices of animal or plant-based origin, with as a final end point to ensure food safety and quality and a good environmental status in relation to human health. To this extent, the Laboratory intends to apply the most recent, sensitive and accurate mass spectrometric methodology including targeted multi-compound as well as untargeted metabolomic approaches. 

Research Group Food chemistry and human nutrition

The Research group Food chemistry and human nutrition, led by professors De Meulenaar and Van Camp, is part of the Department Food Safety and Food Quality. Together, they aim to reduce food losses within the European project Veg-i-trade by developing statistical models to predict the degradation and the safety of fresh products. These models can then be used to improve the planning and logistics of food processors, transporters and supermarkets.

Laboratory of Microbial Ecology and Technology

The Laboratory of Microbial Ecology and Technology, led by professors Verstraete and Boon, is specialised in the study and application of mixed microbial cultures and communities. More specifically, they focus on the optimal management of microbial resources, which enables them to develop novel products and processes to improve the environmental and human health in the most sustainable way. This approach is applied in the fields of microbial ecology, functional food, medical microbial ecology, risk assessment, biomaterials and nanotechnology, water treatment, aquaculture, bio-energy, and soils and sediments. More specific marine research topics include the anaerobic microbial oxidation of the greenhouse gas methane in deep marine sediment ecosystems, bioremediation of contaminated marine sediments, simulation of the deep sea biosphere and the microbial ecology of mud volcanoes. 

Research group Agro-food marketing and consumer behaviour

The research group Agro-food marketing and consumer behaviour, led by professor Wim Verbeke, focusses on marketing challenges faced by agricultural production, and its resulting agricultural and food products, both within the Belgian, European and global context. Consumer behaviour is the point of departure for these studies. Specific research topics are the role and impact of personal, product-related and environmental factors such as communication and labeling on contemporary consumers’ opinions, perceptions, attitude and choices. This is also applied on fish and fishery products.