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Wageningen Food Safety Research

Wageningen Food Safety Research (WFSR, legal entity ‘Stichting Wageningen Research’) is part of Wageningen University and Research Centre that provides world-class expertise in agrofood research to students from >100 different nationalities, and has been awarded as the best university by Dutch students in 2015. WFSR is strongly connected to university research groups in analytical chemistry, organic chemistry, bionanotechnology, toxicology and food quality management through the joint appointments of Prof. Michel Nielen and Prof. Saskia van Ruth, thus ensuring transfer of both fundamental and applied expert knowledge. The institute is an innovative partner in food quality and safety research and specialized in method development, analyses and expert advice. Moreover, the ISO 17025 and ISO17043 (proficiency testing) accredited institute is also National and EU Reference Laboratory and heavily involved in national and EU monitoring plans. WFSR can determine the authenticity and origin of products and carries out research into the biological effects, both positive and negative, of substances and contaminants in food and feed as well.


Role and Commitment of key persons

(including supervisors)

Ruud Peters is a senior scientist and team leader and is a leading expert on the development of analytical detection methods for nanoparticles in food and micro- and nanoplastics in cosmetics. He has a track record of >80 peer-reviewed papers (H-index 38). Dr Peters is the project leader, co-promotor and daily supervisor of the local ESR.

Michel Nielen is the principal scientist at WFSR and holds a special chair on analytical chemistry at Wageningen University. He is former president of the Dutch Society for Mass Spectrometry. From 2011 till 2016 he also acted as scientific director of TI-COAST, the Dutch public-private partnership on analytical science and technology. From January 2017 until 2021 he has been coordinator of the highly successful EU Marie Curie Innovative Training Network FoodSmartphone which aimed for the development of  smartphone analyzers for on-site testing of food quality and safety. Nielen (co-)authored more than 200 peer-reviewed papers (>9500 citations, H-index 55) covering a wide range of analytical technologies, including mass spectrometry, chromatography, capillary electrophoresis and biosensors. Within MonPlas he acts as academic supervisor of ESR Clementina Vitali on behalf of partner organization Wageningen University.

Hans-Gerd Janssen is senior scientist compositional analysis at Unilever R&D Wageningen and part-time professor in analytical chemistry at Wageningen University. His research field is food analysis in the broadest sense with focus areas ranging from compositional analysis of food contact materials, to characterization of ingredients, finished food products and digestive responses. He (co-)authored more than 200 peer-review papers (H-index 37) and supervised 11 PhD.


Key Research Facilities, Infrastructure and Equipment

The Contaminant section of WFSR is experienced in the development of analytical methods for the detection and characterisation of nanoparticles in food and in environmental and toxicological samples. Sample preparation is an important part of these analysis. Instrumental analysis often involves mass spectrometric techniques. Plastic microparticles have been measured using microscopy and FTIR techniques while plastic nanoparticles have been detected and characterized using particle tracking analysis and electron microscopy. The unique combination of biological, toxicological and instrumental analysis facilities and the multidisciplinary staff offers an exciting environment to ESRs. Full on-line library is available. The ESR project will be embedded within the Wageningen University Graduate School VLAG.


Previous and Current Involvement in Research and Training Programmes

WFSR participated in many EU research and training programmes, as a co-ordinator or as core-group beneficiary, for example in FP6 BIOCOP, FP7 CONffIDENCE, FP7 NANOLYSE, FP7 NANODEFINE and the FP7/People projects IMPRESS and PIMMS. WFSR is co-founder and co-organizer of the famous Recent Advances in Food Analysis (RAFA) symposium series. Prof. Nielen supervised 9 PhD theses at Wageningen University. Currently WFSR is active in many EU research and training programmes, as co-ordinator or as core-group beneficiary, e.g. in FOODINTEGRITY, IMPRESS, PIMMS, NanoFASE, H2020 ACEnano, PlasticsFate and the ITN FoodSmartPhone. Moreover, WFSR is co-founder and co-organizer of the Advanced Food Analysis international PhD-level course at Wageningen University Graduate School VLAG. Prof. Michel Nielen is responsible for the BSc course on mass spectrometry at Wageningen University. Furthermore, he is lecturing at the national BSc+ and MSc+ talent student program on analytical chemistry. He is currently supervising 4 PhD students.


Relevant Publications and/or Research / Innovation Product

  1. Peters, R., Herrera-Rivera, Z., Van der Lee, M., Marvin, H., Bouwmeester, H., Weigel, S. (2015) Single particle ICP-MS combined with a data evaluation tool as a routine technique for the analysis of nanoparticles in complex matrices. J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 30, 1274-1285. doi:10.1039/c4ja00357h.

  2. Heringa, M.B., Peters, R.J.B., Bleys, R.L.A.W., Van der Lee, M.K., Tromp, P.C., Van Kesteren, P.C.E., Van Eijkeren, J.C.H., Undas, A.K., Oomen, A.G., Bouwmeester, H. (2018). Detection of titanium particles in human liver and spleen and possible health implications. Particle and Fibre Toxicology, 15, 15.

  3. Peters, R.J.B., Oomen, A.G., van Bemmel, G., van Vliet, L., Undas, A.K., Munniks, S., Bleys, R.L.A.W., Tromp, P.C., Brand, W., van der Lee, M.K. Silicon dioxide and titanium dioxide particles found in human tissues. Nanotoxicology 2020. DOI: 10.1080/17435390.2020.1718232.

  4. Bouwmeester, H., Hollman, P.C.H., Peters, R.J.B. (2015). Potential Health Impact of Environmentally Released Micro- and Nanoplastics in the Human Food Production Chain: Experiences from Nanotoxicology. Environ. Sci. Technol., 49 (15), pp 8932–8947. doi:10.1021/acs.est.5b01090.

  5. Van Raamsdonk, L.D.W., van der Zande, M., Koelmans, A.A., Hoogenboom, R.L.A.P., Peters, R.J.B., Groot, M.J., Peijnenburg, A.C.M., Weesepoel, Y.J.A. Current insights in monitoring, bioaccumulation and potential health effects of microplastics present in the food chain. Foods 2020, 9, 72. DOI: 10.3390/foods9010072.

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