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Wageningen Food Safety Research

Wageningen Food Safety Research (WFSR), an institute within the legal entity Wageningen Research Foundation is part of Wageningen University & Research that provides world-class expertise in agro-food research to students from 113 different nationalities and has been awarded as the best university by Dutch students in 2022.

Wageningen Food Safety Research conducts high-quality, independent research into safe and reliable food. We mainly work for the Dutch government and are an official control laboratory. We measure residues, toxins, contaminants and microbial and viral contamination in food and feed. Our task is to perform a risk analysis, follow trends in the food production chain, identify new risks, check food for authenticity and conduct forensic research. We advise governments and offer a wide range of training activities. In addition, WFSR is a national and European reference laboratory.


Role and Commitment of key persons

(including supervisors)

Anna Katarzyna Undas is a project leader and a researcher at WFSR (within the team of Organic Contaminants). Her primary focus is circular economy contaminants, nanomaterials, and micro- and nanoplastics in different matrices (e.g. food, environmental samples, personal products, and food contact materials). She has co-authored over 20 scientific peer-reviewed publications (H-index of 16). Within MonPlas, she acts as the daily supervisor of ESR Clementina Vitali.

Michel Nielen is the retired principal scientist at WFSR and was a special chair on analytical chemistry at Wageningen University. He is a former president of the Dutch Society for Mass Spectrometry. From 2011 to 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.


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 analyses. 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. A full on-line library is available. The ESR project will be embedded within the Wageningen University Graduate School VLAG.


The status of research premises

WFSR is an independent research institute part of Wageningen University and Research.


Previous 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.


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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